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Defeating Chicken Parasites-Part 1 External Parasites

Welcome to “The Ultimate Guide To Defeating Chicken Parasites”! In this comprehensive series, we will cover everything you need to know about controlling and eliminating parasites that can pose a threat to your chickens. In Part 1, we will focus on external parasites, such as mites and lice, that can cause irritation, discomfort, and sometimes even death in your feathered friends. As a chicken owner, it’s crucial to know how to identify, prevent, and treat these pesky parasites. So, let’s dive in and tackle this important topic head-on!

The Ultimate Guide To Defeating Chicken Parasites: Part 1 External Parasites


Maintaining a healthy flock of chickens is a gratifying experience for any backyard poultry enthusiast. But the presence of parasites can quickly turn that experience into a nightmare. These silent invaders can cause a range of health problems from skin irritation and anemia to decreased egg production and even death. That’s why it’s important to understand these pests and how to prevent and treat infestations effectively.

Types of External Parasites

External parasites are the most common type of chicken parasite and include mites, lice, and ticks.


Mites are tiny parasites that can cause significant discomfort to your chickens. Common mite species include the red mite, depluming mite, and Northern fowl mite. They infest the coop and feed off your chickens’ blood at night. Symptoms of an infestation include redness around their vent, restlessness at night and pale combs.


Lice, on the other hand, infest the feathers and skin of your chickens and can cause severe itching, irritation, and feather loss. Common lice species include the shaft louse, wing louse, book louse, and head louse.


Ticks are less commonly found on chickens but can still be a problem. Ticks may carry diseases such as Lyme disease, tick paralysis, and Rocky Mountain spotted fever, which can affect both chickens and humans.

Life Cycle of External Parasites

Understanding the life cycle of external parasites is crucial to prevent and treat infestations effectively.


Mites have a short life cycle, taking only two weeks from egg to adulthood. They can survive up to five months without feeding on a host.


Lice have a similar life cycle to mites, taking only three weeks from egg to adulthood. They lay their eggs on the feathers of your chickens, which makes them more challenging to treat.


Ticks have a longer life cycle than mites and lice and can survive up to two years without feeding. They lay eggs on the ground, which can hatch into larvae and eventually parasitize your chickens.

Symptoms of External Parasites Infestation

The symptoms of an external parasite infestation in your chickens can vary depending on the type and severity of the infestation. Some of the common symptoms include:

  • Feather loss
  • Restlessness
  • Anemia
  • Pale combs
  • Weight loss
  • Decreased egg production
  • Skin irritation and redness
  • Listlessness

Preventing External Parasites Infestations

Prevention is key when it comes to dealing with external parasite infestations in your flock. Here are some effective ways to prevent infestations:

  • Regular coop cleaning: Clean your coop frequently to reduce the chances of parasites breeding on dirty surfaces. Use a poultry-friendly disinfectant for the best results.
  • Dust baths: Provide your chickens with a dust bath area like a box filled with sand, wood ash, and diatomaceous earth (DE). These substances, especially DE, work to suffocate and dehydrate the mites and lice.
  • Separation of infected chickens: If you suspect that some chickens are infested, you need to isolate them immediately. This can help prevent the spread of infestation to other birds in your flock.

Treating External Parasites Infestations

If your chickens are infested with external parasites, you need to take prompt and effective action to treat them. Here are some effective ways to treat infestations:

  • Spraying with poultry-friendly pesticide: Use a pesticide that is safe for your chickens and sprayed directly on the affected areas.
  • Cleaning and disinfecting the coop: Clean and disinfect your coop thoroughly to eliminate any traces of parasites and their eggs. This should be done after dusting the birds with DE.
  • Isolation of the infected chicken(s): Infected birds must be isolated in a clean, safe, and well-ventilated area and treated promptly.


  1. How often should I clean my coop?
    Cleaning your coop every two weeks to a month is ideal, and disinfecting ought to be done twice or once a year.
  2. What is diatomaceous earth?
    Diatomaceous earth is a natural and fossilized powder that is made up of the microscopic remains of planktons. Its primary function is to damage the parasites’ exoskeletons, suffocate and dehydrate them, leading to death.
  3. What are the advantages of using poultry-friendly disinfectants?
    Poultry-friendly cleaners are safe for your birds and do not contain harsh chemicals that will harm them.
  4. Can external parasites affect humans?
    Some external parasites, like ticks, can carry diseases that affect both chickens and humans.
  5. Should I treat the whole flock or just the infected ones?
    It’s always best to treat the whole flock when one bird is infested since others might get infected if left untreated.


In conclusion, dealing with external parasites in your flock is crucial to maintaining good health and high productivity. With the tips highlighted in this article, you can prevent, recognize and treat infestations quickly and effectively. Remember that prevention is the best medicine, so take the necessary steps to keep your coop and birds clean. Finally, subscribe to “The Happy Chicken Coop” to get more informative content on backyard poultry. Happy chicken keeping!

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