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Red Mites

Red Mite Infection


  • An external parasite of chickens and turkeys, although very small can be seen by the naked eye.
  • Carriers of disease
  • The mite feeds by sucking blood from its host causing irritation.
  • Skin irritation to humans.
  • Birds can be restless and lethargic when heavily infested.
  • Drop in egg Numbers.
  • Loss of condition from depressed feed intake.
  • May cause anaemia and death in young birds.

Poultry red mite (Dermanyssus gallinae) is a paradite that feed by sucking blood from its host. It can be hard to discover that you have red mite problems as they tend to hide by day in crevices within the poultry house and come out at night to feed on the birds. . The adult female red mite measures approximately 1mm in length and varying in colour from a pale grey to red depending on engorgement.

The common Signs

  • Birds are often restless due to the irritation.
  • May cause anaemia and death in young birds.
  • Loss of condition.
  • Pale comb and wattles.
  • Drop in egg production.
  • Blood spots on eggs.
  • Staff/owner complaints of itching.
  • Grey powder around cracks


 Treatment should start when you start keeping hens, prevention is always better than cure. Birds should be covered in a red mite powder or spray on a regulary basis even if there is no visible signs of mites. One of the top powders is the Total Mite Kill Powder.

Red mites are hard to detect as they do not live on the host permently(except in serve infestation). They hide during the day in cracks and holes in the hen house, and only come out to feed at nite when the birds are roosting. So you may have mites and not know it. To combat this the house should be cleaned and sprayed with a Good Mite Killing Liquid on a regular basis.   

Where there is a particularly heavy burden the birds may become lethargic and would probably also benefit from some vitmans to get them through the stress of red mite in addition to the mite treatment.

Thorough cleaning, fumigation and insecticide treatment between batches are essential to keep mites under control. Where there is a heavy infestation, regular repeat treatments may be necessary.

Good house design to eliminate cracks and crevices to reduce the places mites can hide also helps. Treatment of birds after dark, although not easy, is the best option as this is when the mites are the most active.

Bedding is also a factor in controlling mites, straw bedding gives mites a hiding place by living inside the straw shaft, therefore wood shavings is preferable, particurlarly when trying to eliminate mites. Regulary changing of the bed is vital and bed must be burnt or moved well away from the birds.