Red mites (Dermanyssus gallinae) are blood-feeding ectoparasites that live in small cracks inside poultry houses, coming out at night for a blood feed from chickens and turkeys during the warmer months. They are difficult to eradicate and have significant welfare and egg production implications in commercial and backyard flocks.
Red mites are not species specific and will feed from any type of bird although ducks and geese are not normally affected because they do not roost and are relatively active, moving around their house at night.
An infestation of red mites (also called chicken mites, roost mites or poultry mites) will cause skin irritation, stress and a reduction in egg numbers. In extreme cases, birds will become anaemic and can even die. Continue reading
Bumblefoot is the common name for a form of pododermatitis which means inflammation of the foot. It is usually caused by a bacteria called Staphylococcus aureus. There are usually two causes of Bumblefoot. The first is a wound of the foot, this allows the bacteria to gain entry to the local tissue.
The wound then closes over with the bacteria trapped in the foot. Due to poor blood supply to this region there is a lower immune response made as the white blood cells which fight infection cannot enter the region that well. When this occurs a large hard swelling can then develop at the base of the foot.
It is important to learn how to inspect a chicken properly to assess it for good health.
Not only is a chicken’s health check important when buying hens but good husbandry involves checking your birds regularly for the first signs of problems so that they can be nipped in the bud.
Feathers get damaged and look a little tatty over the course of a year, so it is perfectly normal for birds to replace them from time to time and look rather scruffy when they do! Most poultry will moult immediately after the breeding season: which in nature is a time that they have young and are vulnerable to predators whilst looking after their young.
Some waterfowl even change their plumage patterns to an ‘eclipse’ plumage when they moult, which is more camouflage than the plumage they have during the breeding season and useful for attracting a mate. Continue reading
There are several types of biting lice that affect chickens and other poultry. These are known as ecto-parasites or external parasites as they live on the outside of the bird.
Lice are between 1 to 4mm long depending on the type of louse. They can be found crawling on the bird at the base of the feathers but are fast-moving so soon move out of the light when feathers are parted. They spread from bird to bird by direct contact and clumps of eggs are usually found at the base of the feathers below the vent. Continue reading