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5 Tips to Keep your Chickens Mite-Free Naturally

Mites don't have to be a given in your backyard flock if you follow these few simple preventive tips.

If I had a dollar for every time I've heard, "If you use straw in your coop, your chickens will get mites" or "If you raise chickens long enough, you'll eventually have a mite problem." I can tell you, I would have a LOT of dollars! 

In fact, I would probably be lying in a hammock on a deserted island somewhere sipping an umbrella drink!

I use straw in my coop. I've raised chickens for nearly a decade and I have yet to see a single mite or louse on any of my chickens. 

So, I am constantly amazed at how many people email me or contact me through social media asking for help getting rid of poultry mites in their coop and on their chickens. 

In fact, this article on how to treat chickens for a mite infestation is one of my most popular month after month.

But maybe I'm not the best person to ask for advice. 

I mean, as I mentioned, in more than ten years, despite using straw bedding in my coop (gasp!), I've not had a single issue with mites or external parasites of of any kind. 

So how could I possibly give advice? 

But then again, maybe I am the person to ask. Because I believe that I've figured out the secret to keeping your flock mite-free. 


5 Tips to Keep your Chickens Mite-Free Naturally

Like most things in life it's far easier to prevent a problem than treat it. 

And I think that there are a couple of things you can do to make your coop and flock a very inhospitable place for mites to take up residence. 

Since these methods are natural, it's a good idea to use several consistently and in conjunction with each other. 

Often natural remedies can take longer (and more applications) to work since they're easier on the body and not as strong as chemical treatments.

Keeping Mites at Bay

1. Dust Bath  

Providing your flock a dust bath year round is probably your best defense against not only mites, but lice, ticks, fleas and other biting parasites. 

My overall chicken keeping philosophy mostly revolves around the premise that if you give your flock the tools and ability to keep themselves healthy, they will. 

A kiddie pool or small tub filled with dry dirt, sand, wood ash and dried herbs like lavender, rosemary, thyme and mint makes a wonderful dust bath. 

If your chickens free range at least part of the day, they'll find their own spot to bathe in. 

My girls seem to like taking their dust baths in my herb garden....coincidence? I think not. Read more about  Dust Baths. 

2. Add Some Herbs 

In addition to adding some herbs in the dust bath area, sprinkling aromatic herbs in the nest boxes or hanging them in the coop is another good idea. 

In general, insects, rodents and other pests don't enjoy the strong scent of herbs. 

Adding dried herbs such as chamomile and thyme to the feed as well or scattering some fresh herbs on the coop floor for your chickens to nibble on can do double duty according to an article in Poultry World that studied the addition of those particular herbs into chicken feed as a way to reduce mite attraction. 

Read more about Using Herbs .

Chamomile photo credit: CoopduJour Photography

3. Dry the Coop 

Diatomaceous Earth or lime is a great way to make your coop a non-mite friendly spot. 

Generously sprinkle the floor of your coop with lime before you put down new bedding. 

Sprinkle some in the nesting boxes and rub some into the roosts periodically as well. 

Lime is a great product which not only helps to control ammonia, but will also control mites, without the concern about silica dust that some people have using DE (food-grade Diatomaceous Earth). 

I have and do use both products in my coop, but lately have been leaning more towards the lime because of its additional ammonia-busting qualities. 

 4. Add Garlic to their Diet 

Something that I started adding to my chickens' feed right from the start (mostly for our ducks) is actually working to keep our chickens free from parasites. 

Ducks need more of the B vitamin niacin in their diet than chicken feed provides, so I have been adding Brewer's Yeast with Garlic Powder to my chicken feed every day for years. 

The product was originally formulated for horses, and other livestock, and is supposed to work to keep ticks and fleas off dogs, so why wouldn't it work the same for chickens? 

That's the question I asked and am happy to have been instrumental in bringing the first garlic powder formulated specifically for chickens to the market. Find it HERE.

Biting parasites don't enjoy the taste of the blood of hosts that eat a lot of garlic. 

Even if that's not what's keeping my chickens mite-free, it still supports healthy immune and digestive systems and good bone development. 

Read more about  Adding Garlic to their Diet.

5. Build Strong Immune Systems 

 An otherwise healthy chickens will usually be able to stay on top of any mites and keep herself mite-free, but if there are other health issues going on, that's when not only parasites but other issues can overwhelm them. 

So strong immune systems are really important. 

Things like apple cider vinegar and probiotics keep the digestive system working properly and your flock in tip-top shape. 

Read more about Building Strong Immune Systems.

As with much of natural chicken keeping, there aren't a lot of studies done, and not much scientific proof, so I have to go with my gut most of the time and use a lot of common sense. 

Since I do get asked so often about mites, I have been thinking a lot recently about why my chickens have never been bothered by them, and these few simple things that I do just stuck in my mind as to possible explanations. 

I just don't believe that battling mites is an eventuality when you raise chickens.  It is important to limit wild bird and rodent access to your  coop and run as well, since they often carry mites.

Over the last ten years, I've been pretty consistently using herbs and natural supplements and I really believe that's what has led to such a long-lived, happy and HEALTHY flock of chickens in my backyard!

If you are currently battling a mite infestation or want to read more about the life cycle and behavior of mites, you'll want to read this. 

And this is a great article for more about controlling mites naturally using herbs.

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