A problem most chicken keepers come across eventually is the dreaded red mite in the chicken house.  It's important to understand red mites in order to learn how to eradicate them.  A few key points about them: 

- They have a very short life cycle - around 7 days from the mite hatching to it being able to reproduce.

- They live in the dark nooks and crannies of the chicken house.

- They come out at night to feed on the birds blood and will hide again before the birds leave the house in the morning.

- They are not a sign of poor managment - the cleanest chicken house will still get red mites. Mites can be carried by wild birds and the wind, meaning they are unavoidable.

- They can kill - the birds will gradually become more anaemic from blood loss from the mites.

- At the first sign of mites act fast - they will quickly breed and spread.

- They breed rapidly in warm weather but stop breeding during the cold, winter months.  This doesn't mean you don't have them in the winter, it simply means they are lying dormant and not breeding.

- They are very hard to kill, mites will survive for months off the bird and eggs can survive up to 12 months.

- They can affect just a few hens - initially they will feed on the first bird they come to on the perch.  If your birds always roost in one spot this can mean one hen is fed from first every night.

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- Birds reluctant to go in to roost in the hen house at night.

- Finding tiny blood spots on the chickens eggs.

- Feeling itchy after being in the hen house.

- Chickens heads looking pale and not as dark red as usual.

- Weak, lethargic hens.

- Seeing tiny clusters of mites, typically under the ends of the perches or in any areas where birds sleep.

- Seeing mites in the house although they are hard to spot as a fully mature mite is only 0.7mm long.

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1. Remove and bag up all the bedding in the hen house.  Seal the bag very quickly otherwise the mites will crawl out.

2. Use a wallpaper type scraper and scrape off all the hard droppings from the floor and perches, again bag and seal them quickly.

3. Soak the inside of the chicken house in a mite killer such as Nettex Total Mite Kill or Smite.  The liquid works by killing all the live mites it can reach and rapidly reduces the numbers but be aware it is not a solution to the problem used alone.

4. Leave the house to dry.

5. Cover the inside of the house with copious amounts of Diatomaceous Earth powder (DE) particularly getting it into all the nooks and crannies and areas where mites have been seen.

6. Re-lay the bedding and put more Diatomaceous Earth powder all over the bedding.  As all the mites that have been missed by the liquid (and the eggs that hatch) come out of the areas you have missed, the DE will desiccate them over the next few days.  We find this step is the most important, the liquid mite spray used alone cannot ever reach all the hiding places and the red mite eggs.

7. Repeat every 5 - 7 days.

8. Supply your chickens with a dustbath containing Diatomaceous Earth powder.  This will mean they will retain the DE powder in their feathers and will help prevent any stray mites surviving or feeding on them, it will have the added benefit of killing any body lice.

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Don't wash or jet wash the house without killing the mites first.  If you do this you will blast the mites into all the ground surrounding the house, they will then crawl back to the house and carry on breeding.  Kill them whilst you have them contained in one area then wash the house when they area all dead.

Bag up and seal the bags of bedding quickly as you remove it from the house (ideally burn them), as they will crawl out of unsealed bags.

Not all mites are red - the immature mites that have not had a blood feed will be cream/grey.

There is no single product that can be used for an instant solution.  All the products on the market reduce numbers and kill the mites over a few weeks so don't give up if you still see mites crawling in the house after a treatment.

Don't be tempted to insulate your house with an extra layer of liner, or use felt on the roof.  The mites will hide in the gaps where you can't reach them with the mite spray.  Design your house with easy access to all surfaces and make sure there are as few nooks and crannies as possible, this is where plastic housing proves its benefit.  You can still get red mite in plastic housing but it can be easily spotted and treated much faster.

Be very wary about buying second hand chicken housing. As red mite can survive for 12 months you could be bringing in a problem with the house.


Week commencing
16th July 2018

Our opening hours are updated weekly below. We are open all year round every Wednesday - Saturday & try to open on most Sunday's (and some Mondays during holidays).

Monday: CLOSED
Tuesday: CLOSED
Wednesday: 10 - 5pm
Thursday: 10 - 5pm
 Friday: 10 - 5pm
Saturday: 10 - 3pm
Sunday: 10 - 1pm


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Newland Grange,
Stocks Lane, Newland
Malvern, Worcestershire
WR13 5AZ