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Treating red mite in the chicken coop

Updated on August 15, 2012
Bell looking rather mucky!
Bell looking rather mucky!

Dealing with an infestation of red mite

Last year when I went on holiday I came back to a really bad infestation of red mite in the hen house. My son had been left in charge of cleaning the coop but obviously had not done a good job! I have always used smite to scrub the coop and this usually kept the mite at bay but of course it had not been done.

What is red mite?

Red mite is a common pest that all hen keepers get, it is keeping them under control that is important. Red mites are little red beetles that like to live in the cracks and under the perches of the coop. In fact they can be hiding anywhere. Theses mites usually are more active at night, they come out and feed on the chickens blood and may lead to anemia in you flock. You will know if you have a bad case of red mite as your hens will refuse to go in the coop of an evening.

The red mite has a seven day cycle and if left unchecked will multiply at an incredible rate and will be a lot harder to maintain. They are more active in warmer weather so you need to keep on top of the hygiene during the summer months. The key to keep red mite at bay is a good hygiene routine.

  • Changing the bedding in the nesting boxes at least twice a week
  • Scrub out the coop and nesting area once a week
  • Using Diactemous Earth in the nesting boxes and coop

Just by doing the above you will reduce you chances of getting an infestation of red mite.

Treatment for an infestation of red mite

  • Remove the hens from the coop area, either section off part of the run or put you hens in another part of the garden. I have a large dog cage and put my hens in there.
  • Remove all the bedding and any removable parts from the coop/nesting area
  • Either spray all the cracks, corners with fly spray or pour coca-cola on these areas.
  • Leave for 15 - 20 minutes
  • Using the jet spray on your hose, completely spray the whole of the coop, paying particular attention to all the cracks and corners. Keep doing this until you can see no more mites coming out with the water.
  • Using a cleaning solution, for example smite or Jeyes fluid (diluted as per instructions on bottle) Scrub the nesting box and coop area. Scrub the perches and any other removable parts and leave to dry.
  • Once it is all dry, library sprinkle Diactemous Earth in all the corners and cracks. Coat the perches also. Put in new bedding and also sprinkle on Diactemous Earth.

This procedure will need to be repeated again in six days. If you have not eradicated the infestation after the second time then do it again in another six days. Then keep up a good hygiene routine to keep them at bay. I only had to do the procedure twice and then I had the problem under control.

I have only suggested two products for cleaning your coop, however there are lots more available on the market. Ensure you follow the instructions on the packaging. I have suggested using fly spray and coca-cola, this is a cheaper alternative to the manufactured products that are available. The manufactured products are stronger due to the chemicals they contain and the the use of coca-cola is more eco-friendly. Coca-cola works as the acid it contains helps to break down the shell of the mite effectively destroying the mite.

Red mites after they have been disturbed through the cleaning process
Red mites after they have been disturbed through the cleaning process | Source

Hope you found this article useful. I'd love to hear your comments.

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    • sjwigglywoo profile image

      sjwigglywoo 5 years ago from UK

      Hi Pam thank you, it is not a pleasant thing to deal with and prevention is much easier.

    • profile image

      Pam 5 years ago

      Very good article....lots of great information!

    • sjwigglywoo profile image

      sjwigglywoo 5 years ago from UK

      Hi swampbuck I would recommend it every time to keep these pests at bay. Thanks for visiting

    • profile image

      swampbuck 5 years ago

      Diactemous Earth is probably the single best thing you can use..