Saturday, July 30, 2011

Chicken Lice

Yep. Little Nike our Faverolle has chicken lice. It’s horrible. Not life or death because we caught it in time. But, I feel bad for her. I checked the rest of the girls and they are fine. Faverolles are so fluffy. They have beards and big fluffy cheeks. Her feathers also seem packed together more than the other girls. It’s hard to get down to her skin through all the feathers. We named her Nike because of her feathered feet and how she loves to dash out of the run when I open the door.

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When I got home from vacation, I was watching them dash about. I picked her up just at random and noticed her beard was a little thin. When we looked closer, I saw the tell tale q-tip formations around the base of her beard feathers. Those are the eggs. >yuckadoo<

I checked her bum and it was fine. No q-tips. No bugs. I checked her back and was disgusted by all the creepy crawlies running about. I couldn’t believe she wasn’t rolling around constantly dust bathing or scratching! I immediately forgot whatever I was planning to do and went into attack the bugs mode.

Nike got a bath. First bucket soap, second vinegar, third rinse all warm.Then a blow dry. All this outside on the patio. She enjoyed her first blow dry thoroughly. Basking in the heated wind. She did not, however, enjoy the bath. All the buckets had a plentiful supply of dead bugs which is good. At least I was able to give her a little bit of relief.

I then cleaned out the house, put down a coating of DE ( diatomaceous earth) and fresh shavings. The run then got a coating of DE and then it ran out. Damn.

Food grade diatomaceous earth is little tiny fossils that cut through the soft bodies of creepy crawlies and also absorb moisture. To the naked eye it looks like a white powder, like lime you put on your garden. It is a natural non-pharmaceutical way to deter and attack unwanted bugs. It can also be controversial because it can kill beneficial microbes and bugs as well. I try to use it in moderation. The thought process is that they will dust bathe in it and kill the bugs.

That was Sunday. During the week I tried to order some more DE and some lice powder just in case they were superbugs. The DE I could find. But the lice powder was a bit harder. It seems there is an epidemic of chicken lice currently and it took four websites to find some in stock. I ordered some powder and some DE from a place in Michigan. Then I got a call Thursday. They were bought out of the powder, but would ship it next week with the DE. Jees louis!

Today, I went to our one local farm store at which I have never seen DE. I found a dust that said it was for mites, but didn’t say anything about lice. I searched out my favorite employee. He is Brazilian and knows his chickens. He also knows his organic and natural remedies. I asked him if the powder would work on lice. He said it would but, he had something better and took me to the garden section. There on the bottom shelf in the corner was a 5lb bag of food grade DE! Woo!

We had been monitoring Nike during the week. The bugs were less but not gone. Not to a comfortable point anyway. When I got home from the farm store, I put some of the DE in one of the bathing buckets and caught Nike and let the rest of the girls out to play. I then assisted her in a good dusting. Being careful not to get too close to her head. If DE is inhaled it can irritate the lungs and cause coughing. This is also true in humans. I then put her in the run so she could shake off the excess without causing the others to cough and then let her out to play. The run then got a fresh coating and hopefully that will be enough. She will be monitored and we will repeat next week if necessary.

1 comment:

  1. It was so nice to meet you yesterday! We were shopping for DE today too. We don't have lice, our girls are still very young but it is always good to be prepared. I look forward to following your blog and Vineyard chickens.

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