Recently I was examining one of our new chicks and noticed some bugs crawling under her wing. After taking a closer look I realized that she was infested with mites. Since we have never had mites or lice in our coop before I quickly did an online search for some natural remedies. The most common response to treating lice and mites naturally in a coop is to use DE.
DE, short for diatomaceous earth, is fossilized remains of tiny aquatic organisms. Their skeletons are made up of silica, a natural product.
How it works, DE causes insects/bugs to dry out and die by absorbing the oils and fats from the cuticle of the insect’s exoskeleton. Its sharp edges are abrasive, speeding up the process. source: Diatomaceous Earth General Fact Sheet
I took a trip to our local organic feed store and picked up a bag of food-grade DE. If you aren’t sure where to buy DE you can order it online from diatomaceousearth.com
The first step to combat mites and lice is to do some preventative cleaning.
1. Clean the Coop
Start by cleaning out your chicken coop from top to bottom, before you put in the new bedding, sprinkle DE throughout, including the nest boxes. Then put clean bedding in.
I wasn’t able to dust the chickens on the same day as I cleaned the coop, but to be sure that I was getting all the bugs I wanted to dust everyone.
2. Dust the Chickens
Two days after cleaning the coop I was able to dust the chickens, I did this before I let them out so I knew I could catch everybody. Even after two days I noticed a decrease in the amount of bugs on the chickens, so I know the DE is working!
Using an old nylon, I filled it with DE and then used it to brush all over the chickens, making sure to get under their wings and around their vent areas.
(When dealing with protective Momma chickens I recommend getting a hold of her first, dusting her and then putting her outside the coop while you dust her chicks, otherwise you will end up with a chicken attacking your face).
3. Add DE to Dust Baths
By spreading some DE in the chickens dust bath I know they will reapply the DE which will help prevent any further infestations.
It has been working wonderfully and now when I check the chicks I can’t see any bugs.
After dealing with mites in our coop I have learned a few things and would recommend the following:
- Dust the chickens first thing in the morning before you let them out, so they are easier to catch (unless you have friendly chickens that like to be picked up, we don’t)
- Use an old nylon or panty-hose to hold the DE so that you can dust them. Simply fill the nylon with DE and tie the end, making applying the DE easier.
- If possible, use two people. One to hold the chicken and one to dust.
- Sprinkle DE in the chickens dust bath, this allows them to dust themselves with DE regularly.
- You can also add DE to your chicken feed, I haven’t done this yet.
- If you have asthma or other breathing concerns wear a mask to prevent inhalation of the DE dust. Working in a well ventilated area helps as well.
Now that you know some of the benefits of using DE in your chicken coop, check out this amazing giveaway!
Enter for a chance to win one of these great prizes, click the link below.
a Rafflecopter giveaway