Each year, when summer finally arrives, I start to dread hot sunny weather. A bright morning with clear blue skies is usually a signal that our hen coops will require more attention than usual. Each morning I remove all the droppings from each coop (currently 13, counting the goose shed). This keeps the coops relatively clean and sweet smelling. To aid this process I recently started to use Stalosan F. This advertises itself as a disinfectant, eliminating viruses, bacteria, fungi and helps remove dampness in poultry houses. It also seems to control red mite!
Normally we have bad infestations of red mite each summer, which we have hitherto controlled successfully with Poultry Shield. Whilst Poultry Shield does the job just fine, it’s a hell of a lot of work, hours in fact. The other stuff we’ve used in nest boxes particularly with no real success has been Diatom Powder. Dreadful stuff to apply, clouds of dust everywhere. This is what worried us about it. Diatom powder is basically silicon in microscopic particles, the aim of the product is to cut to pieces the red mites themselves. This being the case it will do just the same to your lungs. Simple face masks won’t be enough to protect you when applying the powder. Diatom has had good results for many by all accounts, but not for us.
Other products are available to deal with red mites, such as special puff pack powders, fumigators, etc. We have largely stuck to Poultry Shield together with Stalosan F. Up to very recently our use of Stalosan has been limited to combating moisture, fungus and as an anti-bacterial agent in the coops. A few months ago I thought I’d see if it made any difference to our red mite problem. So I began by applying a lot more of the stuff. Previously I had only dusted it into the bedding on the floor and now and again into the nest boxes.
Now we apply the Stalosan fairly heavily into coop corners, nestboxes, paying special attention to the roosting bars, including the brackets they are attached to. So far it has worked a treat, but with red mite it’s a case of constant vigilance. Normally at this time of year (mid July), we would have to be spraying each coop on a 10 day cycle to stand any chance of controling them. A lot of work, using up a lot of time. This time around, just using the Stalosan, we’ve been saved this drugery. Only now can we see small numbers of red mite in the corners near the roof, inside of door and roof beams. We spray these areas with Poultry Shield every 14 days or so and together with the Stalosan we have controlled their numbers sufficently not to be a worry for the birds.
Bear in mind that red mite can be killers. If you have a broody hen with chicks and there is red mite in the brooder, they can and probably will kill not only the chicks, but mum as well. I know from bitter experience what a real threat these beasties can be. During the summer we often have a brooder or two inside our garage with chicks. We thought that we knew when red mite were present. On one occasion we had a few Japanese bantam chicks in a brooder in the garage one summer, we awoke one morning to find one dead, 2 dying and another looking very unwell. All due to missing the presence of red mite. The life cycle of red mite is only 7 days, yes they breed that quick! You have been warned!!