(Q) Chick Losses (Red Mite)
I have had a very successful time hatching my Dutch and Japanese bantams, raising 20 chicks. These all appeared healthy and were growing quickly, but then I noticed that some of the birds were looking a bit droopy and appeared very quiet. I immediately checked for the usual problems, including looking at the droppings, but could not see anything that looked out of the ordinary. The next day I had two of the birds die, I have now lost a further three birds and cannot understand why.
I have read about various things that kill chicks and the only thing that I can find are some mite, because when I feed the birds I find myself itching. I have sprayed for mite as instructed in the various magazines and books so I expected the problem to be sorted.
Help is urgently needed as I do not want to lose any more birds and I now have a couple more that are looking under the weather.
I am sorry to here about your loses and from your description it sounds as though you have Red Mite. This insect comes out at night and feeds on the birds blood, this eventually will lead to some serious losses if not treated and eradicated.
The fact that you are experiencing itching tells me that you have quite a bad infestation, I note that you have sprayed but you did not mention how many times or how often you had repeated the treatment.
It is very important that you spray your sheds inside and out if possible at least once a week as the breeding cycle of the Red Mite is every seven days (From hatching to breeding) this means the reproduction cycle is fast and why they need to be kept under control.
The reason for your loss of birds is that the mite are coming out of there hiding places at night and sucking the blood from your chickens while they roost ,this will eventually make the birds anemic due to the loss of blood and will cause fatalities. If you look under the wings of recently deceased birds there is a good chance that there will be mite still under the wings.
The mite live inside the poultry house and hide in many of the inaccessible places in the coop; behind door hinges, under drinkers, no where is safe.
Thorough cleaning and spraying is the only way to keep them under control and I am sorry to say, but it is almost impossible to totally eradicate them due to original chemical products being removed from the market.
There are several products available which will control and remove your problem, I recommend Poultry Shield and Diatom, but these need to be used together and on a regular basis. Treating them once and leaving them does not work, Red Mite can live in an empty shed for up to 9 months without feeding, as soon as you reintroduce birds into the pen they will emerge and start feeding off them again.
Buy the products and save yourself a lot of time and the birds a lot of suffering.
BB’S Choice is a selection of only the best tried and tested products recommended by Terry Beebe. Terry has been involved in backyard and exhibition poultry keeping for over 20 years and writes articles for Practical Poultry, Fancy Fowl, Country Smallholder, Home Farmer magazines and many others. He has also written several informative books, so you know his advice can be trusted.