Poultry Mites - Natural Prevention and Treatment for your Chickens

What are Poultry Mites?

Poultry mites are tiny crawling external parasites that can become a problem for your chickens if they are given the opportunity move in to your coop and take up residence on your flock.

They are spread by bringing infected birds into your flock, by wild birds, rodents, or by carrying them in on your shoes or clothing.

 Poultry mites are more prevalent and active in warm weather and during the summer, although some types do live in cold climates as well.

While their life cycle is only 5-7 days, each mite can lay more than 100,000 eggs during that time, so treatment must be repeated and ongoing to completely eradicate them.

ckens or in the coop hiding under roosts, in cracks in the walls and even in the bedding material by day and coming out at night to feed.

Why are Mites a Problem? 

Poultry mites bite and chew, extracting blood from the host, and can cause your chickens not only discomfort but also feather loss,  anemia or even death in extreme cases.

How Do I Know if my Chickens Have Mites?

If your hens all of a sudden seem reluctant to go into their coop at night, or stop using the nesting boxes, there's a good chance they might be mite-infested.

Normally, the dust baths that chickens take in a dry patch of dirt or sand, preferably enhanced with some wood ash and food-grade diatomaceous earth, will keep them mite-free.

But often in extremely hot and humid areas where mite populations flourish or during long periods of wet weather when the chickens might not have the opportunity to bathe, the mites will get the upper hand.

If your chickens have mites, you might see them preening more or biting at their feathers under their wings and around their vents.

Upon closer inspection you will see tiny red or black spots near the vent. You might also see red streaks of blood or black specks when you run your hand along the roosts.

(Note: Whitish crusty deposits at the base of the feather shafts indicate lice, these are the egg deposits. Read how to combat lice and other other pests naturally HERE).  

How Do I Treat my Chickens for Mites?

There are several commercially sold chemical solutions and insecticides that are often used to battle mites but I don't recommend using any of them.

Most are NOT approved for use on chickens, meaning their use is 'off-label'.

Chemical treatments should never be your first line of defense. Frontline or Sevin Dust should never be used on chickens (Frontline is formulated for dogs and cats and we won't even use it on them because we don't feel its safe to apply chemicals to our pets and Sevin dust is a known carcinogen!)

Natural Treatment for Mites

 Instead, why not try a few natural remedies? Safe for your chickens, not so good for mites!

Natural Coop Mite Spray

Spraying your coop and roosts for several days in a row with a mixture of 2 cups water, 1 cup cooking oil and 1 tablespoon dish washing liquid will help kill off the mites that leave the hens by suffocating them. Shake well before using because the mixture will separate.

The coop should be sprayed at least once or twice a week for several weeks in conjunction with treating your hens directly.

Natural Coop Mite Treatment

Sprinkling food-grade Diatomaceous Earth onto the floor of the coop and nesting boxes and rubbing it into the roosts is another option that can be used in conjunction with the oil spray and reapplied as needed.

Wormwood (artemesia) can help repel mites.

Tie bouquets of wormwood to the roosts, make sachets for your nesting boxes or hang cuttings in your coop as an ongoing mite repellent.


Natural Chicken Mite Spray

To treat the chickens themselves, spray them with a garlic juice mixture.  This treatment has been found by poultry scientists in the UK to have a 100% kill rate over 24 hours.

This can be used as a treatment and also as an ongoing preventative.

Natural Mite Garlic Juice Spray

10 ounces of water
1 ounce of garlic juice (you can find it here)
1 teaspoon (total) any combination of these essential oils - bay, cinnamon, clove, coriander, lavender, spearmint and/or thyme

Mix in a spray bottle and spray hens bi-weekly as a preventative or every other day for two to three weeks in the case of an infestation.  Concentrate around the vent and under the wings. 

If you can't find garlic juice, you can make your own:

Garlic Juice

6 cloves fresh garlic, thinly sliced 
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil 
2 cup waters

  • Heat water in a saucepan until bubbles just start to form around the edges. Add the garlic and simmer for 20 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and cool completely. 
  • Strain out the garlic and whisk the vegetable oil into the strained liquid.
  • Pour your garlic juice into a squirt bottle

More Treatment for your Chickens

Dusting your chickens with food-grade DE after spraying them is also recommended, taking care not to get the dust in their (or your)  eyes or lungs.

Treating your coop and chickens simultaneously is necessary to completely get rid of the mites.

There are several herbs that have been tested and proven to help repel mites, including chamomile, garlic and thyme.

Added Iron for Chickens with Mites

While your chickens are suffering from mites, it is recommended you increase their iron intake to prevent anemia. Good sources of iron include:

  • scrambled or hard boiled eggs
  • meat scraps
  • cooked poultry
  • cooked fish and/or fish skin
  • seafood
  • spinach
  • beet greens
  • dandelion greens
  • sweet potato
  • broccoli
  • collards
  • kale
  • strawberries
  • watermelon
  • raisins
  • wheat products
  • oatmeal
  • cornmeal
  • molasses
Adding these foods to their diet can help them better battle the mites, which in addition to draining the body of iron also affect the immune system.

Poultry Mite Preventives

Adding fresh garlic cloves to the water or garlic powder to their feed is an effective preventative since parasites don't seem to like the taste of the blood of chickens that have garlic added to their diet.

The garlic will also help boost your hens' immune systems.

I've been racking my brain all these years trying to figure out why I have NEVER had problems with mites in my coop, and I'm convinced it's because I add this product to my chickens' daily feed. I recommend you do too.

Providing your chickens with a dust bath area filled with dry loose dirt or sand, food-grade Diatomaceous Earth and wood ash will help your flock stay parasite-free.

Checking for Poultry Mites

As with most issues, being vigilant and knowing what looks 'normal' and what doesn't is the best preventative.

Carefully examining your chickens regularly enables you to spot and deal with potential problems before they get out of control.

Checking vents and under wings will help you catch external parasites before they are able to multiply.

At the first sign of mites, fast treatment can eradicate them before the infestation gets a good foothold.

Testamonial to Natural Methods

And for those who don't think that natural remedies can work, here's a note I received from a reader which is just one of many similar email I've received over the years:

"I would just like to say thank you for sharing your recipe for mites. I have been trying to get rid of mine all summer, I have bought countless pesticides and sprays, which I hate to use. I used your recipe on Tuesday and now there is no sign of them on the perches, before using I ran my hand on the perch and it came away bloody, yesterday nothing and this morning nothing!!!! So once again thank you!!!!I did do the whole coop! I dragged everything out, sprayed it and the shed all over, literally!!! There were no dry patches in there, I gave it a good soaking!!! I will now be using your spray every week so thank you again."
Karen H.

To read more about how dust baths can help prevent parasites, read HERE.
To read more about the benefits of DE and garlic, read HERE.
To read more about preventing mites, read HERE.
To read more about scaly leg mites, read HERE.

Lifestyle Block How to Care for your Poultry Volume 2, 2012
Veterinary Herbal Medicine, Elsevier Health Sciences, 2006

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