Lice. Every parent’s worst nightmare. You think you’ve been unhygienic, you think you’ve been unclean. The fact is, Chickens not unlike small human baby children play with, on and near things that you don’t necessarily know what they’ve played with, on or near.
It all started with a tweet in which I requested my dearly beloved to check on our top hen Mave as she’d not laid in two days and just seem a bit sad. Turns out he ignored my tweet, I did my gym session and came home to a pretty fed up hen. She’d been off for a while and non of them were particularly speedy to roost of and evening and Mave wasn’t particularly fussed about getting up in the morning either.
A quick scoop of Mavis and an over all inspection didn’t yield much. A duff beak, wonky legs, good comb and wattle and nothing out of the normal. Then someone decided to back fluff the chicken & she was crawling. Luckily it wasn’t me or I may well have dropped her there and then.
As the hen is returned safely to the ground and the panic sets in, we look over coop, turning bedding, looking in corners, taking out the perches all the while trying to ignore the skin crawling I’ve definitely got them eww gross feeling we both had.
On inspection of coop, it wasn’t red mite, phew. But oh, what was it? I never bought the Haynes Manual for my car, but I bought it for the chicken. Quickly quickly find the page, find the page.
Ahh Menopon Gallinae, the common chicken louse. They fitted the description, small, yellowygreyish in colour and quickly scurry away from light. A quick google search on chicken lice will mean you see all you need to see, or alternatively you can come round and I can show you from baby louse or big gross louse.
Chicken Lice are not life threatening, they feed of dead skin and feather debris on a bird, they do irritate, hence the grumps in the flock and if found in big enough numbers can hamper a chickens ability to deal with day to day bothers of being a chicken. It also means they’re more reluctant to roost and get lethargic. You couldn’t have described Maves change in character more to a T.
Bums. Panic set in again, boy is already at this point removing bedding and I am just wandering around the garden at 7.40pm trying to work out what I can get from where. It took me a while to get to the answer, nothing till tomorrow. We agree there is no point changing bedding till we’ve deloused the birds and we can’t delouse the birds till tomorrow. Lets just be nice to them and go away.
Bugger. Grumpy chickwan explained. Crawling in lice. Beak clipped as a chick means she can’t keep them at bay, gah. Feel bad.
The treatment for chicken lice, is delousing powder which is as glamorous as it sounds. Our local farm and country store opens at 8am, so that was my first pit stop. Two canisters of powder and some ground sanitizer. Turns out we weren’t the only ones struggling with lice and warm damp conditions are meaning a lot of people are struggling to get rid. There is something comforting in knowing its not just you.
Everything in coop had to go, keep them on dust free wood shavings only and a through deep clean with a different cleaner. For our week to week clean and sprays we normally use Poultry Shield, a multipurpose cleaner, organic mater killer and odour neutraliser, but for this one we decided to bring out the big guns. Total Mite Kill…a multi action cleaner with added insecticides…smells like lavender.
In the rain we bagged, scraped and brushed coop. No place left to hide. Then to the birds. Have you ever tried antiquing a chicken? I defy you to succeed antiquing a wet chicken who knows your game. Doris just sulked, she stood out in the rain with her wings out and her head down.
All the tips about laying a chicken on its back and holding legs and keeping head and beak out of the way with one hand were near on impossible for coop and the gang. Plonk the gang member of the table, use all four hands and be prepared to wash your clothes.
The lice aren’t gone and we’re powdering every 3-4 days, bedding change and clean out weekly but spirits have improved and egg production is back up. Once we’re deloused we’ll powder every 6 weeks as the old sayings are the best…prevention is better than cure.