Red mites can be a huge problem to backyard flocks. If you’re looking for the best treatment for red mite in chickens, it's something I've dealt with, so I can help.
There are a few products and home remedies that are effective at killing and deterring red mites. I have to though, personally I find Diatomaceous Earth to be the easiest to use and most effective treatment.
In this article, I will help you better understand where red mites are coming from, the risks they pose to your flock, and why diatomaceous earth is the best solution to rid your coop and chickens of red mites.
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What Are Red Mites?
Poultry red mites are one of the biggest threats to the poultry industry (source). They can affect egg production, the health of chickens and other poultry, and can even pose a public threat in numbers.
These little parasitic mites live in small cracks and crevices in chicken coops and like to come out at night and feed off of chickens.
They are actually white or grey in color. But turn red when they feed on chickens and suck some of their blood.
The good news is, there are some very effective treatments that are easy to use and have a good success rate at ridding coops of red mites.
I’ll be explaining more about how to rid your coop and chickens of red mites throughout this article.
How Do I Know If My Chickens Have Red Mites?
Some of the signs to look out for that may indicate your chickens are being bitten by red mites include:
- Pale comb or wattles, or a floppy comb - a chicken’s comb is often a good indication of their general health.
- A decrease in egg production
- Lethargic behavior
- Signs of anemia
- Evidence of mites in their coop - you can see them with the naked eye
- Evidence of mites when inspecting a chicken
If you want to be sure, go into their coop overnight and wipe a white paper towel across some of the surfaces. If there are mites you’ll see red stains on the paper, or even mites themselves.
You can also examine your chicken closely. Look around their vent in particular for the presence of red mites. Part their feathers and look for mites close to their skin too.
Where Do Red Mites Come From?
You will probably never be able to trace exactly where the mites came from in the first place. The most likely explanation is from another wild bird carrying them.
Once they find hosts to feed off though, they can spread incredibly quickly. It just so happens that coops provide the kind of homes they like, and chickens provide the source of food they need to thrive.
Which is why it can be tricky ridding your coop and flock of mites completely - although it’s not impossible. It’s certainly easy to get it under control, do don’t worry.
How Do You Get Rid of Red Mites on Chickens?
The best treatment if ever found for mites on my flock is diatomaceous earth. Diatomaceous Earth or DE as it’s called, is a naturally occurring sedimentary rock that’s been crushed into a fine white powder.
This powder is somewhat of a miracle powder with loads of applications around the home, garden, and for ridding various pets of lice, fleas, ticks, and mites.
As long as you’re using food grade DE as I’ve listed below from Amazon, it’s perfectly safe to use around your chickens.
It’s still sensible not to let them breathe much of the powder in. But it’s safe to use on and around chickens.
There is a couple of ways you can use DE. You can apply it directly to your chicken’s coat, and you can add some to their dust bath.
Just be sure you’re getting it under their wings, in contact with their skin, and around their vent if you do apply it to them.
Want an alternative to DE?
There are a few red mite treatments made from various chemicals and compounds. Now, obviously, if they have been passed as safe to use on chickens as the Re Mite Powder below as it’s safe.
Personally, I still prefer to use organically and naturally occurring compounds like DE. But it’s up to you. You can take a look at some of the reviews for this powder on Amazon via the link and make up your own mind.
A few treatments of either this powder or DE, plus cleaning out their coop as I’ll explain below, will almost certainly get a mite infestation under control.
How to Get Rid of Red Mites in a Chicken Coop
It’s going to take more work to rid the coop of mites than your chickens, but you can’t do one without the other.
The best way to approach this is to pick a day and start early. Get all of your birds out of the coop, and remove anything that will move. So, bedding, roosting bar, nest boxes, etc.
If you have a poultry safe disinfectant, give the coop a scrub first and let it dry.
Then shake DE all around the inside of the coop. If you have slatted wood panels, get it in between the slats. Shake it where the roosting perch connected, and to do a thorough job you need to pull up the felt roof too.
Put fresh bedding back in, and apply some DE to the surface.
If you live in a climate where mites flourish, it’s more of an ongoing war than a one-off battle. It’s definitely a war you can win though, just by doing the steps above you’ll have it under control.
Ways You Can Prevent Red Mites Coming Back or Increasing in Numbers
Prevention is always important when you’re tiring to keep the number of mites to a minimum.
Once you’ve done a full cleanout of our coop and dusted your chickens, you should routinely shake DE around their coop and on areas where they’ll take a dust bath.
I add DE about once a month, and I always use it when I’m replacing the bedding in my girl’s coop. I’ve never had a serious infestation of red mites (touch wood), and it’s very unlikely I will by doing this.
Related content - Can chickens eat lavender and the other benefits of using this herb.
Can Red Mites Live on Humans?
The good news is that red mites cannot live on humans, no.
They will crawl on you and can even cause some irritation and itchiness. But you’re not at risk of them living on you for more than a few hours.
Much like poultry lice, they feed off of chickens and other birds. They can also live on wood surfaces long enough to reproduce and increase in numbers. Making a wooden coop full of chickens the perfect environment for them to inhabit.
I hope this article has helped you better understand what red mites are and how to spot them. As well as reassuring you that there are some simple and effective ways you can get rid of them on your flock, coop, and surrounding areas.
Diatomaceous earth is by far the best treatment for red mites in chickens.
If you haven’t yet tried this versatile white powder, I recommend you pick some up. If not to deal with an infestation, but as a preventative measure and for some of the other benefits it has too.