I have been reading up on organic solutions for lice and came across an article that recommends soaking hen for 5 minutes in a solution of salt water, then soak for another 5 minutes in dish washing liquid and water, and repeat in two weeks. The only problem here is that my hens are free range in my backyard (as an organic solution to slugs, etc) and are ex battery hens, so they are not easily picked up without causing stress. They will come around my feet but if I try to pick them up they run. I have purchased lice powder from the vet in the past (before converting to organic) and find that a pain to dust them thoroughly and the idea of the powders residue in my organic garden does not sit well with me. Which got me thinking, does the chicken lice have a natural predator?
I have read a little bit on mites that are used to control red chicken mites, but I assume that red chicken mites and chicken lice are two different things.
So are they different? And, does anybody know of a predator i can introduce to my hens that may control these lice?
Hi Damian. I've never had a lice problem with my chickens, but some people swear by dusting their skin with diatomaceous earth, and adding it to places the birds dust bathe and probably the nest box. Janet Luke sells it here (http://www.greenurbanliving.co.nz/shop/) - note that the smaller quantity is on page 2 - and I understand it's fine for organic systems. It's bad for your lungs though, because it's so fine and cutty, so wear a good dust mask. To catch those that don't want to be caught, I find the easiest way is to go to the coop at dusk and simply lift them off their perch. If that doesn't work you might have to wait until it's dark - they're fairly helpless then. And yes lice are different to red mites, which live not on the bird but usually in tiny cracks in the perch or coop, and feed from chicken feet at night time. I don't know of a predator that will control lice, but the idea of biological control is a good one! Check out my facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/KeepingChickensNZ, for other chicken tips. Good luck!
If you can catch them cider or white vinegar will kill mites (or head lice for that matter). You can buy bulk white vingar from Gilmours relatively cheaply. You can also use it for cleaning the chicken coop and a whole host of other uses.
Alternatively, you could try using manuka in the nexting boxes and on the ground (I haven't tried this one, but I'm told it works quite well).
Hi Todd, do you mean sprigs of manuka scattered around?
Agree that vinegar is great stuff indeed.