Backyard Chickens: The Unexpected Health Risk Of Fleas
By Tom Seest
At BackyardChickenNews, we help people who want to raise backyard chickens by collating information and news blended with our own personal experiences.
Can Keeping Backyard Chickens Lead to Fleas? Using food-grade diatomaceous earth on chickens can help prevent fleas and parasites. Chickens love to roll in the dust, so dusting them with DE can be a good way to reduce the amount of dust they inhale. It does have some potential side effects, though, so it’s best to use it carefully and only in enclosed areas.
When applied correctly, food-grade diatomaceous earth can protect backyard chickens and livestock from fleas and parasites. It works by cutting parasites through their exoskeletons. It’s a safe and effective way to protect your flock from parasites and fleas and can be added to your routine chicken coop maintenance routine. If you use diatomaceous earth to protect your flock, it will also help reduce your need for toxic chemicals.
Food-grade diatomaceous earth is a natural product derived from fossilized diatoms. Diatoms are microscopic aquatic organisms with a silica-based skeleton. These diatoms have been around for thousands of years, and the fossilized remains are then refined into a fine powder. However, some people are concerned about the dangers of silica, as silica crystals can cause lung cancer. If you are concerned, opt for amorphous diatomaceous earth, as it is safer than crystallized silica.
Food-grade diatomaceous earth is safe for chickens, as it contains many beneficial minerals and a unique effect against fleas and parasites. In addition to killing fleas, diatomaceous earth can help detoxify your chickens’ digestive systems and improve their health.
You can purchase food-grade diatomaceous earth online or in garden supply stores. Home Depot and Lowe’s sell it in their gardening sections, as do most Feed Stores. However, make sure you buy food-grade DE, which is different than the DE used in swimming pool filters. As a precaution, always wear a mask and wash your hands thoroughly after handling food-grade diatomaceous earth.
Food-grade diatomaceous earth works well against a variety of pests indoors and outdoors. It can also help with flea problems and reduce parasites in horses and pigs. Diatomaceous earth is a natural deterrent for fleas and can even be applied to chicken dust baths.
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When you are raising backyard chickens, you’ll need to know the difference between fleas and scaly leg mites. Scaly-leg mites live underneath the chickens’ scales and can cause a lot of discomfort to the chickens. They suck blood from the chickens and can be debilitating to the birds. You should be sure to remove these mites from your chickens as soon as you find them.
Treatment for scaly leg mites is simple and effective. To remove the mites, soak the chickens’ feet in warm water and use a soft brush to scrub off the mites. You can also try soaking the chickens’ feet in a solution of soapy water to disinfect them. The warm water will also open up the chicken’s feet so you can apply petroleum jelly easily.
The best way to prevent these mites from growing back is to dust your flock regularly. Applying a layer of diatomaceous earth or a general waste bin liner will help keep grit from sticking to the legs. Then, apply Vaseline to the affected areas several times a week for the next week until the legs return to normal. In most cases, persistent treatment will cure the scaly leg mites. However, if the mites are very serious, you may need to seek veterinary assistance.
While you may think that fleas and scaly leg mites are separate issues, they often coexist. Scaly leg mites are very common and can lead to serious problems. Once the mites have settled on your chickens’ legs, they will start to infest the feathers, and the chickens will develop anemia. The mites can even bite humans. Fortunately, the bites are not painful, but they can give you the urge to shower yourself in gasoline!
You can use safe insecticides to kill mites. These include diatomaceous earth, absorbacide, and Pestene. For best results, treat your chickens twice. The second treatment will kill any remaining eggs and mites. Alternatively, you can also spray your chicken coop with poultry dust. But keep in mind that pesticides are highly toxic for other animals and humans.
The European chicken flea is a pest found in backyard chickens and other poultry. Unlike other fleas, this type will only stay on your flock for a short period of time. It can also be found in their litter and can cause serious health problems for your chickens. Despite its small size, this parasite can still be extremely harmful to your chickens.
This pest bites chicken skin and hides in their litter to feed on chicken blood. While it can be seen all year round, chicken flea infestations are most likely to happen during the hot summer months. This is when extra precautions should be taken to prevent an infestation. The European chicken flea is the most common type of chicken flea in the United States. Western chick fleas, however, are not as common and are only found in the Pacific Northwest.
You can treat your flock with a food-grade diatomaceous earth powder. This natural deodorant kills fleas and can be sprinkled on the chicken’s feathers. Just make sure that the solution does not enter their mouths or eyes. Repeat this process 10-14 days later to ensure that your chickens are flea-free.
While it is important to monitor the health of your chicken flock regularly, flea infestations can also affect your flock’s production. Infected chickens have lower egg production and less energy. Moreover, they’ll become stressed and may even suffer from malnutrition. So, it is important to make sure that you’re able to identify the signs of an infestation before it’s too late.
Flea larvae feed on organic matter and then shelter in the surface dust and litter. Adult fleas lay their eggs in places that are often visited by their host. The eggs hatch into flea larvae and feed on bits of dried blood and bits of skin. After two weeks, the adult flea emerges and searches for a host.
Scaly leg mites are not visible until several weeks after infection, so it is important to apply an antibacterial wound spray to the affected area. In some cases, you can also apply a thin layer of Vaseline to the legs to soften the scales and suffocate the surviving parasites. This treatment needs to be repeated every few weeks to control the infestation. In addition to using an antibacterial solution, it’s important to keep regular health check-ups to ensure your chickens stay healthy and safe.
Be sure to read our other related stories at BackyardChickenNews to learn more about raising chickens in your backyard.