Red Mite on Wood

Red Mites and Everything You’ve Ever Wanted to Know About Diatomaceous Earth

With summer fast approaching it means red mites will soon be here! This month we look at how Diatomaceous Earth can help you to keep your hens red mite free.

Red mites are nocturnal, which means they’re most active at night, so you may not have seen them in your hen house. These sneaky little pests feed off your hen’s blood which is highly irritating for your poor girls as it causes agitation and prevents them from resting. If left untreated, red mites can induce a drop in egg production, cause stress and eventually anaemia through excessive blood loss, and in very extreme cases, your hens may die.

An easy way to tell if you have a red mite problem in your coop is to place a small square of light coloured toweling material in the corner of your nest boxes or over the end of a perch. The mites will hide in the folds, thinking that they cannot be seen, and the towelling will turn a reddish colour.

So, what do you do if you have red mites? Diatomaceous Earth, or DE for short, can be used to treat animals and birds showing signs of external parasites like lice, fleas, mites etc, and even internal parasites like worms. It’s one of the most popular treatments available.

What is Diatomaceous Earth and how does it work?

Diatomaceous Earth is a 100% natural dust-like product, made from the fossilised remains of ancient shell creatures. It is inert and safe for both humans and animals.

When the mites crawl through the Diatomaceous Earth dust to feed at night, the microscopically small sharp shards that make up the dust scratch the mite’s waxy shell, causing them to die.

Natural Diatomaceous Earth also has a desiccating effect on litter, drying it to reduce ammonia, moulds and fungi and deter the colonisation of mites and other crawling insects.

What are the benefits of Diatomaceous Earth?

There are many reasons to add Diatomaceous Earth to your hen keeping essentials list. Here are a few:

  • Chemical Free – Diatomaceous Earth is completely natural and doea not contain any chemicals. This means it does not harm the environment. It’s also odour free, stain free and pesticide free.
  • If ingested by your chickens it is not harmful to them.
  • Humans like bubble baths, hens like dust baths and by adding Diatomaceous Earth to your hen’s dust bathing areas you’ll keep the mites at bay.

How to use Diatomaceous Earth?

On your hens: Apply under the wings and around the vent area.

In your coop: Apply to the coop by spreading into cracks, crevices and nest box areas where mites hide. Rub along perches and apply to the house floor after cleaning out.

It can also be placed in a litter tray with some dry soil and the hens can then self-treat themselves when they dust bathe.

Use for prevention or as part of a mite control treatment to reduce mites and lice in your poultry.

We advise wearing gloves and a dust mask when applying Diatomaceous Earth as occassionally it can be a skin irritant.

If you’d like advice on your hen’s health, why not visit our Hen Health page, where we discuss important things to look for in your hen’s health, whether its personality or physical symptoms. Or, head to our Hen Examination Guidelines where we can show you where to find things like the crop or the wattle.

If you need to seek medical advice, click here to find your nearest Hen Friendly Vet.
You can also call Hen Central on 01884 860084 to speak to one of our rehoming assistants.

Giving a gift today helps fund our Hen Helpline. It helps support hen keepers, giving them the best advice on how to care for their hens. If you have found our advice helpful, please consider giving a gift towards the hen helpline here.

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