Basic livestock management requires you to know what types of parasites are possible in your flock, knowing what measures you can take to keep them at bay, and knowing what to do if, despite your best efforts, you manage to get a parasitic infestation.
The easiest and more important step in preventing parasites is keeping your pen CLEAN! Unsanitary conditions are asking for diseases and parasites—don’t let this happen to you! Be sure little is clean and dry. If you find damp manure, remove it and change the conditions that let that happen. You don’t want to lay around in wet manure, and neither do your chickens.
Parasitic infestations can lead to decreased egg production, stunted body growth, and death. You don’t want any of this!
Mites are one of the more common infestations. Mites suck the blood of their host and reproduce QUICKLY. And, they can live in the environment (not just on the host) so you have to treat both the animals and their housing.
According to Backyard Poultry, you should check random birds for mites each week. Take a hen and blow the feathers back and count the number of mites you can see with your eye. Using that number, do the following calculations:
- 5 mites counted = Bird may be carrying from 100 to 300 mites
- 6 mites counted = Bird may be carrying from 300 to 1,000 mites (light infestation)
- 7 mites counted = Bird may be carrying from 1,000 to 3,000 mites – small clumps of mites seen on skin and feathers (moderate infestation)
- 8 mites counted = Bird may be carrying from 3,000 to 10,000 mites – accumulation of mites on skin and feathers (moderate to heavy infestation)
- 9 mites counted = Bird may be carrying 10,000 to 32,000 or more mites – numerous large clumps of mites seen on skin and feathers; skin pocketed with scabs (heavy infestation)