I’m a planner. I like to know what to expect when embarking on a new endeavor so that I can be as prepared as possible to handle situations as they arise. Before I got my first chickens, I bought every book and read every article and online forum I could find to research whether keeping  chickens was right for me. The majority of my research was extremely encouraging, however, each time I read the ‘external parasites’ and ‘diseases’ discussions, I promptly convinced myself that keeping chickens was for the insane. There were just too many diseases and nasty crawling things that I could not be any less interested in knowing how to identify, much less how to eradicate. Frankly, the long list of insects that could possibly live on my proposed pets made me itch.


I don’t know what it was that tilted the scales in favor of taking the plunge, perhaps it was the cute photos of baby chicks or the promise of a daily Easter egg hunt. Regardless, I’m here to tell you that most of the bad things that could go wrong with a chicken usually don’t and of the things that commonly do go wrong, they tend not to happen simultaneously. So, we handle them one at a time as they come up and maintain a general awareness of the possibilities. That is certainly true of external parasites. There are many types of external parasites, but being able to identify each is not as important as being able to recognize the signs and symptoms of an infestation
generally and how to treat it.


Monthly or bi-monthly flock inspections of each chicken should be performed in order to identify and address parasites before an infestation worsens and birds begin exhibiting signs of parasites. Particular attention should be paid to brooding hens as they dust-bathe less frequently than usual and are especially vunerable to parasites.Some of the common signs of any type of mite or lice
infestation in a chicken are: decreased activity or listlessness, pale comb, changes in appetite, a drop in egg production, weight loss, feather-pulling, bald spots, redness or scabs on the skin, dull, ragged-looking feathers. 

7/3/2015 8:07:42 AM

I forgot to emphasize that it should be FOOD GRADE diatomaceous earth, which is used in human food and which has particles that are not as large, and therefore harmful to the lungs, as other grades of diatomaceous earth.

7/3/2015 8:05:39 AM

I find it hard to believe that dusting chickens with pesticide powder which they will inhale is less harmful than dusting them with food-grade diatomaceous earth. I use diatomaceous earth on my chickens and have had no problems. I also dust their roost and coop with it, although I do it infrequently, since I have not had a lice or mite problem.

Live The Good Life with GRIT!

Grit JulAug 2016At GRIT, we have a tradition of respecting the land that sustains rural America. That's why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing to GRIT through our automatic renewal savings plan. By paying now with a credit card, you save an additional $6 and get 6 issues of GRIT for only $16.95 (USA only).

Or, Bill Me Later and send me one year of GRIT for just $22.95!

Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter

Free Product Information Classifieds Newsletters