Saturday, June 1, 2013

When the Worst Happens: Dealing with Chicken Mites

Yesterday started out fairly normal and uneventful.  By noon, however, I was nearly in tears with frustration.  Why?  Well, let me tell you.  Perhaps this is something you chicken owners already knew, but I sure didn't.  So I am passing this information on!

I posted this photo on a wonderfully helpful chicken Facebook group (Arkansas Chicken Chat) I am on:

For a while, I got a couple of complimentary comments and likes.  Then a seasoned chicken farmer piped up.

"Looks like you may have an infestation of mites."

 My eyes got big and I started typing, fast.

"Really? How do you know?"

"Lana the mites burrow into the chickens feet the scab that you see is them digging the chickens feet and makes a place for them to breathe,,,if you cover the whole foot with Vaseline it cuts off the air they they suffocate,,,,the chicken will usually peck at it till its gone,,it may be on there till they molt......."

At this point I was feeling a lot of things.  Anger at myself, namely, for thinking all along this was how a bantam's feet were supposed to look!  Embarrassment that my flock had mites.  EW!!  So gross!  I put a great deal of work into trying to keep my animals healthy and pest-free.  I had even used DE in the main coop... but I think my error was forgetting Mrs. Potts' broody house.  According to my research, mites unfortunately happen.  My guess is that it is from the wild birds that sometimes come into the coop to eat the chicken's corn.

After a few shudders and creeped out moments thinking something was crawling on me, I knew I had to bite the bullet and take care of my infested flock.  (P.S. - Chicken mites are species-specific.  They don't live on humans.  YAY!)  I arranged for some Sevin dust and vegetable oil to be brought to me via hubs and my parents who were passing by a Wal-Mart.  (Oil can also be used on the feet to suffocate the mites, and I *thought* it might be easier to apply.)  I was putting my game face on.  Let's do this!

When the supplies were brought to me to treat the afflicted, I started to go to work.  Oh goodness, the things I have learned in the short span of this past year.  Chalk this one up for experience, folks.  LESSON LEARNED.

After seeing many bloggers use a combination of memes and paint to illustrate things they failed to get a picture of, I decided to use that technique to give you a little insight on how the chicken mite treatment went down... cause there was no way I was bringing our camera into this mess.


Yeah, that pretty much covers it.  I tried to just set the hen's feet in a tub of oil (in my mind, it would work great).  Instead, the hen flapped like a flag in the West Texas breeze and I got a face full, eye full - everything full of oil.  
Hubby's reaction...

Dad's reaction...

Dad (looking on, shaking his head I am sure...) pointed out that we should just hold them by their feet, rub a little oil on then pat on some Sevin, and - done!  Suddenly it became really easy and we got it done quick.  For some odd reason, chickens are surprisingly calm and quiet when you hold them by their feet.  

Might want to make a note of that.

Now I am feeling much better.  The flock has been fully treated and hopefully we are well on our way to recovery, AND I got a shower.  What a day!

Although the poor hen who took an oil bath (and gave me one) is looking rather sulky....


Ugh.  I tried.

So if your chickens have mites and they are also affecting their feet, do the following:
  •  Dust entire coop area with 5% Sevin dust.  My understanding is this can also be lightly used on the birds.  You can also use diatomaceous earth, but it takes a bit longer to work.
  • Coat affected chicken feet in some kind of cooking oil or Vaseline to suffocate the mites.
I will keep you updated on their healing.  Have a good day!  :)

22 comments:

  1. I use diatomaceous earth, love that stuff. Very useful post and also quite funny :) HOWEVER - Don't feel for one second like it's all your fault. I've been there, done the same thing, beat myself up, it's just one of those things. dealing with mites, worms, etc, etc is just part of animal ownership especially farming and you can be a great caretaker and you'll still have problems sometimes. So you've done everything right, you are taking care of everyone and it certainly was not for lack of care! :)

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    1. Thanks, Donna! You always know just what to say to make me feel better. :) They are looking great today, so hopefully our mite problem is over for a time.

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  2. Hahaha! It sounds like we're having a similar week on the farm. I wouldn't have figured out the mites either. Your drawings and memes are awesome. Really add to the story. :)
    Thank you for the info, seeing as how we'll be getting our new birds soon.
    Hope it's all cleared up.

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    1. Haha thank you, you were a definite contributor to my inspiration with the drawings! I think things are cleared up. Everyone is looking much better today!

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  3. I have always wanted to have chickens. I grew up playing in my aunt's chicken coop...Anyway, if I ever do get the opportunity I will have learned so much from your posts! You are doing a great job Lana. T.

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    1. Aww, thank you. I totally encourage you to get some chickens, btw. You would LOVE them!!

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  4. While I wish you didn't have to deal with this, you brought some humor to the situation with your write up - I laughed out loud! Nothing ever really goes as planned when you're taking care of animals. Hope everything works out!

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    1. Glad you were able to get a laugh out of it! I laughed making it... heehee! Sometimes all you can do in a bad time is laugh. It helps get you through it!

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  5. I can only imagine...and hope that is all I ever have to do. But at least now I know what to do. Your drawing is perfect! That is exactly what I visualized you looking like while you de-mite your chicks, lol

    Thank goodness for an observant reader...who knows how bad it might have gotten without their input.

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    1. I hope you never have to deal with this, either! And yes, thank goodness for the chicken group I am a part of. They have been INVALUABLE!!

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  6. Living and learning. There are so many funny farm moments. I have something called Garden & Poultry dust that I have used before.

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    1. Yes and sometimes all we can do is laugh! :)

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  7. Yikes! I had no idea there were mites on chickens!

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    1. Yep! They get lice, too! And a host of other icky things. But they are so worth it! :)

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  8. I had a rooster last month (has since passed away) that was kicked out of the coop by the other two roosters so he lived down at the barn on his own for some time. One day he wasn't looking so good so my daughter (21) brought him to the house and put him in a large cage so he could rest and we could make sure he had plenty of food and water. I came home and gave him some lovin's. He's always been real friendly. I was soon in the shower scrubbing with soap and scalding hot water. The poor guy was LOADED with mites....and so was I! AHHHHHH!!!! I have dusted the coop for mites since. I have not seen any on their legs but I have not searched their bodies as of yet. I'm hoping because he was banded from the coop by the "guys" that the mites were from the barn area and not the coop area. I will keep the Vaseline and oil in mind if I do run across more. Do they make something you can dust their bodies with if they do get them or is it just for the coop?
    Thanks,
    Sarah

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    1. Sounds like your experience was similar to mine! It is no fun at all. For their bodies, I know I have read many actually use the Sevin dust. It just sort of scares me because it has such a strong smell! I have used, instead, diatomaceous earth. It is more natural. Be sure if you use it to get the food grade... it can be bought at farm supply type places usually (I think Tractor Supply has it), and if not there you can find it online. :)

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  9. I love the picture you drew!! Too funny. Hope all is back to normal soon! J

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    1. Haha thank you! I hope so, too. :-)

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  10. Well you tought this ol women something! Thank You for sharing this!!

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    1. Sure thing! So glad you found it useful. :-)

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  11. I really enjoy your blog! Those pics were great! I love to use pictures myself when I post. Thanks for sharing with us @ My fAvorite Posts SHOW OFF Weekend Blog Party!

    Jessica
    The Wondering Brain

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  12. We're featuring this post at the Owl's Skull today! Stop by to grab a featured-at button and link up something new:). Much love, Alice (aka jess) http://theowlskull.blogspot.com/2013/06/the-wonderland-hop-13.html

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