Treating Red Mites in Chickens Holistically

Katie Shepherd
Friday, 1st August 2014

Permaculture farmer Katie Shepherds shares how she uses herbal remedies to treat red mites in chickens.

Red mite infestation is a common health and welfare in poultry in the UK, (and beyond) and this year seems to have been particulalry problematic. Over the last few weeks I've seen much discussion on Facebook and Twitter about various ways of treating and preventing what can be a really distressing and fatal health problem in poultry flocks of all scale and size.

I really like using aromatherapy oils to treat both my self and my animals, and have been doing so succesfully for most of my life. It fits really well with a lot of the other interests, attitudes and bbelifes I have relating to health and healing. Recent research undertaken by Newcastle University has shown that various plant oils can have a significant impact on red mite infestations, without causing adverse reactions to the chickens, humans or environment.

From the above, I came up with the following treatment for my chickens:

* Thyme oil 10 drops
* Tea tee oil 10 drops
* Citronella oil 10 drops
* Lavender oil 10 drops
* Olbus oil 5 drops

Mix all together in a large spray container, ideally with a little vodka (or other spirit) to help mix and disperse the oils. The only evidence behind using Olbus oil is that Jackie Bridgen, a farmer who I very much admire and respect told me she used it for all kinds of poultry care (and other animal care - it's very much at the core of my 'medicines' cupboard now), with good effect, so I add it in for good measure. I spray the WHOLE of the inside of the chicken house thoroughly especially any joins/cracks/edges/perches where the red mite are likely to be lurking. I do this every 5-6 days (the life cycle of the mite) for a couple of months then when all signs of the mite have gone I apply the same solution in the same way every couple of weeks or so for 'maintenance'.

In addition to this, I apply Barrier Red Mite Powder to the actual chickens at the same frequency as the chicken house treatment as above. The Barrier powder has a similar mix of oils as the spray I have devised above, but in a maize powder base, which means it stays on the bird longer.

Katie Shepherd is a permaculture practitioner and hill farmer in North Yorkshire.

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Further resources

Watch: Growing chickens - feeding compost not grain

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