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Controlling Poultry Mites and Lice Naturally with Herbs

Mites can be a big problem in chicken houses, both commercial and in the backyard. Now, recent studies point to using herbs to help control them.

As a longtime proponent of adding herbs to my chickens' diet and environment, I always get excited to read about new studies and research coming out about natural remedies and supplements. 

Unfortunately, not much study has been done on the specific benefits of herbs in chicken keeping, but since my first book Fresh Eggs Daily: Raising Happy, Healthy Chickens...Naturally came out in 2013, more and more is being learned about the value of herbs.

And the exciting thing is that it seems to back up and validate the things that I've been doing for my chickens for years!

Controlling Poultry Mites and Lice Naturally with Herbs

According to a recent article in Poultry World, which is a wonderful aggregate of poultry research and studies being done worldwide, several specific herbs added to chicken feed has been proven successful in controlling red poultry mites. 

Now, this was really interesting to me because all of the other mite control methods I've read about, both commercial (i.e. chemical) and herbal have always involved external application. 

But this new study was done by adding dried, powdered herbs to chicken feed.

Mites can wreak havoc on a flock.  

They contribute to anemia, feather pecking, aggression, cannibalism, and even death. 
They also can be responsible for a reduction in egg production and decreased egg quality, as well as an increase in feed consumption. 

Once they take hold in your coop, they can be awful to get rid of, so trying to prevent them is critical. 
I sprinkle herbs in my nest boxes and in my chickens' dust bath area and regularly check the roosts and around my girls' vents and under their wings for evidence of any type of parasites. 

But sometimes prevention is not enough....and to find that there may be a natural, herbal treatment really excites me! 

Treating Mites Naturally with Herbs

The herbs specifically being used (and shown to result in a 75% decrease in mite populations in flocks being fed the herbal feed supplement according to the studies) are:


Chamomile strengthens the immune system and aids in healing skin tissue damage caused by the mites.


Garlic also benefits the immune system and is an anti-parasitic. 

Taken internally it is thought to discourage biting parasites from being attracted to the host, and sprayed externally it can help to repel mites as well. 

I personally believe that one reason my flock has never battled mites is that I've been adding garlic powder to their feed almost since day one... 

and continue to do so for both my chickens and ducks from hatch to laying age and beyond.

This is the product I use as a daily feed supplement. 


Thyme possesses antibacterial and anti-parasitic properties and also aids in blood circulation.

Dried, powdered herbs were added to the chickens' feed in the study in varying ratios and were determined to reduce mite infestation in the treated chickens. 

You can read more about the study HERE

Treating Lice Naturally with Herbs

Lice can also be a problem in a chicken flock, but here are some suggestions on treating lice naturally as well.

Dish Soap/DE

  • Mix 2 cups of salt into 2 gallons of warm water. 
  • Soak the hen for 10 minutes, then soak her for five minutes in a tub of 2 gallons of warm water with 1/2 cup of Dawn dishwashing liquid and 1/2 cup of white vinegar mixed in. 
  • The lice should drown and float to the top.  
  • Rinse her well and dry her thoroughly. 
  • Repeat every other day or so until you no longer see evidence of the lice.
Coconut Oil

Apply coconut oil to the areas where you see the lice every day for five days.

Apple Cider Vinegar

Squirt apple cider vinegar onto the affected hens where you see the lice.

Essential oils

Essential oils sprayed onto the affected hens that kill lice include: anise, cinnamon, clove, lavender, nutmeg, peppermint, rosemary and  thyme.

I realize that a lot needs to be taken on faith when it comes to the health benefits of herbs, but the more I read and the more time goes by and I see how healthy my flock is, I continue to believe in raising my chickens naturally. 

I add all kinds of culinary herbs to my chickens' diet and environment because I really do think that there are so many more benefits for chickens that we have yet to realize and recognize. 

In addition to providing your chickens a wide variety of herbs, fresh and dried, mixed into their feed and also free-choice from the garden, a dust bath is the best way to help them stay mite- and lice-free. 

They wriggle around in the dirt/wood ash/sand mixture and that helps to smother any parasites. And why not toss a few herbs in your nest boxes as can't hurt!

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.

Fresh Eggs Daily Natural Poultry Feed Supplements

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You might also enjoy these articles:
How to Prevent and Treat Mites Naturally
Natural Treatment for Scaly Leg Mites
5 Tips to Keep your Chickens Mite-Free Naturally
Natural Pest Control

References/Further Reading:
Phytogenics Against Red Mites in Poultry
Treating Red Mites Holistically
Mites: How to Prevent and Treat Them
Common Herbs and their Health Benefits

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