We’ve recently had a bout of chook mites that is the worst ever and we only have 2 chooks now! It appears that this time they were 2 different types; red mites and fowl mites (tropical/northern, not sure).
We’ve had red mites before but not the latter, and I think they are the ones that are still sticking around despite all our measures to eradicate the mites. They even get into our house and bite us which was how we found out about these new mites.
They are very difficult to see and are so small, like a speck of dirt, hence also called black pepper mites. Once we detected them, I tested to see if tea tree oil affects them and it did! It was a premixed spray of 1 part tea tree oil (20%) to 4 parts water that I use for wiping. I suspect it could be the alcohol content that affected them too as I’ve read that rubbing alcohol also kills on contact. We sprayed them in the chook house and there were some that were unaffected.
I did the boiling water wash of the chook house like I did the last season. I only had to do it once the last time but we were dealing with red mites only then. This time around, we did multiple times and still the mite population hardly reduced. We used a steamer and that only helped slightly. We did this almost on a daily basis.
I also tested them with diatomaceous earth and that did nothing to them! I’ve read that they are too small to be affected. The chooks have lemon balm and wormwood in their surroundings and I often put lavender, wormwood and lemon grass in their nest. Looks like the mites’ need to feed overcomes the deterrents.
At the moment, we are using neem oil and Pestene powder. That made a big difference after one application. I’ve tried to avoid using Pestene powder which is supposedly not organic and will affect other beneficial insects but we just couldn’t let the chooks be infested with mites for that long. The only problem is that now I can’t tell if it’s the neem oil or the Pestene powder that’s made the difference. Although I haven’t dusted the chooks themselves with Pestene powder, only sprinkled in their nesting and dusting areas.
Anyone would have thought that after so many years of having chooks, we would be prepared for this seasonal problem. I’m just very hopeful that the natural deterrents will be good enough. I guess not, with all the wild birds visiting each day. Next year, we will be prepared!
How do you deal with chook parasites? Have you had success with just natural remedies?