chicken lice

riley17(5)September 5, 2008

hi, I've had chickens for about five years now and i always bought any new additions as babies from a hatchery so there was never a worry about them bringing the older hens lice right? i hope. Anyways, i was wondering if you can see chicken lice and if you can, what do they look like? I was cleaning my coop out last week or so and i have this crazy habit of taking an old vacuum cleaner to my coops walls because i cant stand the dust and cobwebs that build up there. I noticed thousands of these little white bugs that look like white fleas on the walls and so now I'm wondering if my poor little hens have chicken lice? I'd rather not use chemicals on them if i can help it so any info would be helpful. Thanks,


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Same here...I've had 2 breakouts with hen lice this season. First I dusted them with dri-kill powder,then the second time same thing. it did care of them but I don't like to use chemicals I went to see an old farmer who's a friend of the family and he said the best thing to use is ashes from a wood burning stove. Put them in a place that they won't get wet,like a box inside the coop or something and they will kill off lice and mites after dust bathing in them. He has never had a problem in over 30 years so I'm sure it's a good solution!
I have the same white bugs in my shed which is nowhere near the animals,so I would love to know what the heck they are too. They look a lot like white lice,but they aren't living on animals like lice do throughout their life cycle. has me stumped...anyone have a clue what they are?

    Bookmark   September 6, 2008 at 9:31AM
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hmmm... wood ashes huh? I'll have to try it. Thanks! I dont know what those little bugs must be then. how do i know if my chickens have lice or not? if those little bugs aren't lice, I'm not sure they have them because they are so isolated from other birds. i try to keep it that way to avoid giving my babies diseases.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2008 at 10:36AM
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are your birds free range or confined in a pen? you can check them by holding them and parting their feathers near the vent,you'll see them...they'll be around the vent and on the skin surface...I only found out mine had lice by looking close one day,,apparently they don't live off of them,so who knows what those little white things are!!

    Bookmark   September 6, 2008 at 12:15PM
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velvet_sparrow(Zone 5b, Gardnerville, NV)

Info on lice & mites here:

And a spiffy, non-toxic way of killing them in the coop (NOT on the birds!) using steam here:

I'd suggest using the Adams Spray to delouse your birds & coop (use the spray on the coop AFTER the steamer), and THEN take more natural ways of keeping lice & mites at bay in the future--once you have an outbreak it's very important to kill it quickly and decisively--parasites can kill your birds.

Wild birds and other animals carry in parasites all the time, so keeping them out is nearly impossible.

Velvet ~:>

    Bookmark   September 6, 2008 at 6:54PM
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ginni77(z 5)

I wonder if food grade DE (diatomaceous earth) would help? I dust the roosts, floor, bedding and even put it in the feeders once a week when I clean my coops. I also add it to the loose dirt where my chickens take dust baths so they treat themselves! I've heard that DE is so drying, it kills lice by sucking the moisture out of their bodies. It's also supposed to help keep the chickens from getting internal worms when they eat it.

Just be 100% SURE you get food grade (codex) DE, it's safe for chickens...there is another kind that can kill chickens and it's used for swimming pool filters! DON'T get that kind!!!

    Bookmark   September 13, 2008 at 9:06PM
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When we had our free range chickens, we used DE in their feed and in their bedding. I regularly put a scoop in each of the nests and had piles inside the hoop house for dust bathing. We never had a parasite problem on any one of the 70+ chickens. (Food grade, of course!)

    Bookmark   September 14, 2008 at 8:46AM
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velvet_sparrow(Zone 5b, Gardnerville, NV)

I've got info on the pros & cons of DE here:

But here's part of what I have there:

Diatomaceous earth is made from the remains of fossilized marine algae called diatoms. The product is mined and reduced to silica powder form. When eaten, this powder acts as tiny pieces of glass that tear the shells of insects and other arthropods. Insects die within one to two days from dehydration. Here's the catch though, and it's a big one--some people swear by it, others say it does no good whatsoever--and I could not find any studies that were conclusive one way or another. There is also a question as the whether DE is OK for chickens to breathe (it's not OK for humans to breathe because of the way it works--getting silica in your lungs is very dangerous) and whether it can accumulate in the gut and cause blockage problems. Remember, chickens scratch a lot and they'll kick this stuff up every time when they do.

So for what it's worth, here's how one person I know uses it and this is his experience talking here, not mine: "While wearing a dust mask to protect your lungs (DE is dangerous to breathe) mix food grade or agricultural grade Diatomaceous Earth into the chicken feed. Use one (1) tablespoon of Diatomaceous Earth for each gallon of dried feed, (i.e. chicken scratch, feed grains, etc.). Also sprinkle it in the pens. The chickens are dewormed, don't get mites, and there's no flies nor smell in the pens. The DE will also kill any insects the chickens don't eat. I also feed it to my large livestock for deworming. DE doesn't kill with poison; it slits the outer skin of the insect and dehydrates them. 'FILTER grade' DE that goes into your swimming pool will NOT kill worms, but WILL KILL your livestock. DO NOT USE 'filter grade' DE on anything living. Only food grade! With DE there is no need to avoid eating the hen's eggs for a week or two, and the parasites cannot develop an immunity to DE since it works mechanically, not chemically, to kill the worm. I've read that since DE only works when dry, it is not an effective wormer--once it rains and DE gets wet you have to reapply it. BUT - putting it in feed will help kill soft-skinned pests in the feed, and also in the droppings, after they have dried. This can stop the spread of parasites by killing off the pests before they get recycled."

So you see the problem with DE--it may work great or not at all and there are health issues. Also you have to leave DE out all the time, free choice so that it can work on any parasites the chickens ingest day to day. DO YOUR RESEARCH--look up DE on the Internet, ask your vet, talk to other poultry owners, etc. and then decide. If DE does not work, you should go ahead with a chemical wormer--better to be safe than sorry. I have seen no information that states that DE and wormers cannot be used together.

Velvet ~:>

    Bookmark   September 15, 2008 at 1:48PM
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they don't sell it here where I live because it's thought to be hazardous to our health.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2008 at 10:05PM
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chickens likes to bathe on wood ashes and even sands. I have known it by observing them free chickens on my grandpa's farm when i was little. When i asked my granpa about this chicken behavior, He said, it's their way of getting rid of the lice. confined chickens are more prone to lice.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2011 at 8:12PM
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