Dealing with external parasites on chickens
Farmer's Weekly|April 23, 2021
These pests can cause severe problems for small-flock poultry producers (and occasionally large-flock producers) by disturbing the birds and affecting their growth and egg production. They can also spread disease.

As a first step in parasite control, chicken houses should be kept clean at all times. It is particularly important to remove dead birds as soon as possible.

Birds become infested with external parasites (ectoparasites) when new chickens are brought onto the farm and through contact with each other.

The following are the most common ectoparasites found in South Africa:

• Lice

Biting lice spend their entire lives on the birds and are found on the skin around the vent and on the breast and thighs. They feed on skin and feathers, and can reduce growth and egg production.

• Mites

These pests differ from lice in that they feed on the blood of chickens. As a result, the birds do not grow well. The three most important poultry mites are:

– Red mite (Dermanyssus gallinae): a large mite that lives in the cracks and crevices of chicken houses and feeds mainly at night. It is difficult to locate during the day.

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