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Popular mite and lice treatments I wouldn’t use on my chickens

Carbaryl (Sevin)

Carbaryl or commonly called Sevin is used to control mites and lice on chickens but it is a popular insecticide with many other uses including pest control on food crops.

There are some pretty strong reasons why I wouldn’t use Carbaryl or Sevin on chickens/poultry. Firstly, Carbaryl is known to be toxic to humans so it’s obviously a strong chemical which needs to be handled with caution; and secondly, Carbaryl is banned in many countries around the world so there must be reasons for nations to take this action.

One of the reasons Carbaryl is banned in many countries is due to it being a known carcinogen (can trigger cancer in humans) therefore this alone is enough to convince me to stay away from this chemical because if it is so toxic to humans, then why anyone would put it near their chickens is beyond me. 

Diatomaceous Earth

The use of Diatomaceous Earth (DE) to control mites, lice, and all external (and even internal) parasites on chickens and other poultry, in my opinion, has been the biggest scam this century in regards to keeping poultry. I would go even further and say the popularity of DE amongst some naturalists and organic preachers is a classic case of people whipping up a storm about a product and believing their own BS simply because they have a burning desire to believe they’ve found a silver bullet to control parasites in chickens that is completely natural. 

Diatomaceous Earth is a naturally occurring substance formed from the fossilised remains of tiny dead aquatic creatures or plants (like algae) to produce a fine sandy sediment rock that can be crushed into a powder.

Under a microscope, DE particles are sharp like glass shards and apparently it’s this characteristic mixed with its moisture absorbing qualities, which kills soft-bodied parasites through abrasion and dehydration. So the theory is you add DE to chicken feed, sprinkle it around nesting boxes and areas where the birds dust bath and it will control parasites both inside and out!

Too good to be true? Yep, it most certainly is… And, the reason I’m confident about DE for parasite control on poultry being a con is that there are no clinically recognised reputable studies proving Diatomaceous Earth actually works. In fact, there have been some small studies in cattle to see if DE could control internal parasites and it found it didn’t.

The worrying part about DE is how it is marketed as a completely harmless and organic product when it could actually be very harmful to the health of humans and chickens. It’s hard to prove either way because DE is basically fine sand and therefore is not classed as a medication, or restricted substance it escapes regulatory scrutiny.

In other words, not even the government knows much about Diatomaceous Earth apart from it being sand so there are no restrictions on who can sell it or how it is marketed for use. So without any real research or control, people are using an untested product which could potentially be dangerous.

Why could Diatomaceous Earth be dangerous? In its powdered form, DE can become airborne and thus inhaled by humans or poultry. To date, there is no evidence or studies (that I am aware of) showing DE to be harmful if inhaled into the lungs; however, most manufacturers packaging of DE recommends the wearing of a respirator when using DE. So, if DE is indeed harmless then what’s with the warning?

Chickens, unfortunately, can’t wear a respirator (not that I know of) so I worry what DE may do if inhaled by my birds? Yes, hens do dust bath in the dirt or even sand but no one really knows if dust bathing in DE is worse or not… 

Anecdotal evidence by broad-minded people who have tried DE to control external parasites on their own chickens shows convincingly that it doesn’t work as claimed. Many good veterinarians don’t recommend using DE and I have firsthand information from vets, breeders, and poultry suppliers who all believe DE at best is not a very good product to use for controlling parasites in poultry.

At the end of the day, there are two main issues that bother me about using Diatomaceous Earth: it doesn’t really work or it hasn’t been proven to and it could be dangerous – we just don’t know. Furthermore, DE has become rather expensive to buy maybe because it’s so “trendy” at the moment but I wouldn’t waste good money on a product claiming to be a miracle cure without the evidence to back it up.  

Conclusion    

As you can clearly see, I have a bias towards the use of Ivermectin based products for on the bird and Maldison 50 or products from the pyrethrins family for coops or roosts etc. Used in conjunction with natural remedies and practices I’ve found these to be the most effective and safest treatment of mites and lice on chickens or other poultry.

I consider myself an environmentally responsible and “green-leaning” person but I haven’t let my judgement be corrupted by a longing for the perfect safe environmentally friendly organic substance that doesn’t exist to treat my hens. Instead, I researched and tested mite and lice treatments for poultry over many years to come to this conclusion and write this rather long article.

Yes, we would all love a totally safe, organic, and sustainable substance to use as treatment for mites and lice on our loved poultry but until something else is developed that ticks those boxes with the research to back it up I will be using those products as detailed: mainly Ivermectin, Maldison 50, and a mixture of natural remedies plus a common sense approach to good poultry keeping practices.            

The aim of this article wasn’t to attack people who use those other methods nor was it to convince everyone to do what I do but moreover to help give people some clarity and information on ways and products to treat chickens or other poultry for external parasites like mites and lice. I also wanted to explain some background information behind certain treatments, which is otherwise difficult to find. There’s a lot of confusion out there especially on the internet about the best ways to treat poultry so I hope this can clear it up for some. 

We owe it to our birds to ensure they are provided with the best living conditions possible and I don’t believe we should jeopardise their health simply on principle by insisting on being totally organic.

Sure, only treat your birds when necessary – that’s fine, and yes use organic measures to help protect your flock but no one should let birds suffer from external parasites like mites and lice (particularly mites) just so they can claim no chemicals because to do so is morally wrong in my humble opinion.     

Do you have an opinion or your own tips on combating external parasites in regards to chickens? Then, feel free to make a comment or ask a question below. Also, don't forget our forum www.selfsufficientculture.com as you're most welcome to join our online community!

Look, and see the Earth through her eyes...

P.S Extra post notes: 

Christopher gave a great tip in the comments section below about using a steamer to clean the chicken coop. What a top idea and totally organic solution to killing any mites or nasties hiding in the cracks and crevices such as nesting boxes etc. Obviously, you don't do the steam treatment on the hens but for equipment, housing, and bedding areas hot steam is an excellent solution. 

 

Mark Valencia

Mark is the Founder of Self Sufficient Me - you can read more on our About Page and subscribe to his YouTube Channel here.

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Comments (17)

Rated 5 out of 5 based on 1 voters
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Hi Mark

Thanks for the info. I made the moo mistake of using old straw bedding for mulch and now have red mites in the garden bed. Any hints on how i can rid them?
Catherine

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Hi Catherine,

Could you try live predatory mites? See this article here about using them as an alternative to pesticides. Cheers

Comment was last edited about 1 year ago by Mark Valencia Mark Valencia
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

I just got a prescription for a 100 ml bottle of Ivermectin from my vet. You said 1 ml per full size bird. Half that for bantams and pullets. Is there a reapplication period like with dusts? Or should I reapply in 3 months if I see any more...

I just got a prescription for a 100 ml bottle of Ivermectin from my vet. You said 1 ml per full size bird. Half that for bantams and pullets. Is there a reapplication period like with dusts? Or should I reapply in 3 months if I see any more signs of infestation?
My birds free range on pasture and I cannot prevent wild birds from being a part of their environment, so I will be making bi-weekly inspections my new ritual.

Thanks for your post! I would not have used Ivermectin if I hadn't read it.

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If you got it from your vet you really must get the dosage from them also. My statements on dosages in the article were made for information purposes on the product subscribed to me and should not be used for other products.

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Mark.... there is scientific literature out there following research into DE and its use in poultry for control of external parasites and it has been proven to be successful. But as all treatments, it should be used in moderation and combined...

Mark.... there is scientific literature out there following research into DE and its use in poultry for control of external parasites and it has been proven to be successful. But as all treatments, it should be used in moderation and combined with several strategies, particularly in a preventative form to ensure an outbreak doesn't occur.

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I bought into the idea of using Diatomaceous Earth (D.E) almost exclusively, especially since I have a very cheap, and locally produced supply. Earlier this summer I noticed northern foul mites, and hen fleas in my nests. I tried increasing the...

I bought into the idea of using Diatomaceous Earth (D.E) almost exclusively, especially since I have a very cheap, and locally produced supply. Earlier this summer I noticed northern foul mites, and hen fleas in my nests. I tried increasing the amount of D.E in the nests, their dust baths, and dusted each bird with it regularly over the course of 2 weeks to no avail . The buggers were literally crawling around in D.E. like they were thriving in it. After 2 weeks of religious D.E treatment, I gave up and switched to Carbaryl (Sevin Dust) as recommended by a local vet and it worked within days. I don't like the stuff either especially due to its toxicity to bees, but its great to hear that there are other options that potentially less damaging to the surrounding environment. Thanks for the article, its great to hear a more pragmatic view on the subject.

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Hi Patrick, I so much appreciate you giving us your experience on DE - that was a very informative and interesting comment you wrote. I must admit I wished there was something that worked on mites and lice, which was completely natural, organic,...

Hi Patrick, I so much appreciate you giving us your experience on DE - that was a very informative and interesting comment you wrote. I must admit I wished there was something that worked on mites and lice, which was completely natural, organic, and harmless to the environment and initially I investigated using DE because I had hoped this was such a product but it isn't, unfortunately...

At the end of the day, if we use the proven products for chickens such as Carbaryl strictly as directed this is a better option than doing nothing or continuing to use an unproven method and letting the hens suffer.

Thank you very much for your input

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Thank you , seems very fair and balanced, good info!

  1. 5 / 5
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Thank you Erika!

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Tiffany,

my article explains several products that are proven effective on mites and lice but the question is are you willing to use them? You ask if anyone knows of a "good treatment" do you mean one that isn't chemical based because there are...

Tiffany,

my article explains several products that are proven effective on mites and lice but the question is are you willing to use them? You ask if anyone knows of a "good treatment" do you mean one that isn't chemical based because there are many chemicals approved for use on birds in the USA and around the world that will certainly work by killing mites and lice to solve your problem. The issue I have is what chemical is the safest...?

If you're looking for an organic miracle in DE I think you'll be very disappointed quite frankly because I have never heard of any serious chicken breeder use the stuff and all my research weighs heavily towards DE not working.

Comparing DE to ivermectin is a little odd - a treatment either works or it doesn't and I can tell you ivermectin does work to kill all sorts of skin parasites on poultry from first hand experience I've been using it for several years but don't take my word for it many veterinarians recommend it, which can't be said for DE. If ivermectin hasn't worked for you my guess is there was some external factor influencing the treatment such as: incorrect type of ivermectin, bad batch, incorrect dose, etc.

If finding a treatment is concerning you so much I suggest visiting your local vet for advice so that your birds can be promptly treated and free from isolation to join your main flock.

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Comment was last edited about 3 years ago by Mark Valencia Mark Valencia
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Hi David,

A lot of people use Ivermectin and a lot of people recommend it because its pretty safe. However, how effective it is; is another story. I've been using it and have had no luck with it. That's why I am here' looking for another...

Hi David,

A lot of people use Ivermectin and a lot of people recommend it because its pretty safe. However, how effective it is; is another story. I've been using it and have had no luck with it. That's why I am here' looking for another treatment. Everyone says that DE is useless also. This is starting to be a witch hunt! I feel bad for these little chicks. Does anyone have a good treatment? I bought them at what we call, "chicken swap" here in the US. They were just babies and I didn't see any on them when I bought them but I noticed it about 3 weeks ago and have been treating with Ivermectin as suggested in a chicken group. Next time that I buy birds, I will do a SUPER look over and I dont care what the seller thinks! This is just horrible! My little ones cant join the flock until this is gone. But I think that I will go with the DE regardless of what others are saying. Time to try another solution. I have also heard that flea and tick treatment for dogs work well but that scares me a bit. Anyway, I hope that the DE works! Bye

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Hi Sue,

thank you for your comment, this is a controversial subject (it shouldn't be) but it's nice to get some support from people like you who understand the real intentions of the article. I can see the statistics show this article is...

Hi Sue,

thank you for your comment, this is a controversial subject (it shouldn't be) but it's nice to get some support from people like you who understand the real intentions of the article. I can see the statistics show this article is getting quite a lot of interest so I hope it has helped clear up some of the misinformation out there on treatments for poultry for mites, lice, and other parasites. Cheers

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Comment was last edited about 3 years ago by Mark Valencia Mark Valencia
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Excellent and relatively unbiased report. Thank you.You obviously care about your poultry and that can only be a good thing. I too take "organic" controls with a grain of salt -yes- because anecdotal is not evidence.

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

David,

yes regarding your point about ivermectin you're absolutely correct.

Please publish which Ivermectin is registered for use with Poultry in Australia.


In my article, I explain at length how the use of ivermection is not ratified for use...

David,

yes regarding your point about ivermectin you're absolutely correct.

Please publish which Ivermectin is registered for use with Poultry in Australia.


In my article, I explain at length how the use of ivermection is not ratified for use on poultry that is my main point and frankly frustration with the system and a motivation for writing this article in the first place! Many people including poultry breeders and vets use ivermection on birds but is it legal? Probably not... but regardless it still is sold commercially by some respected retailers so why is that? And why do people use it then? The line is blurred somewhat and I don't know the full answer to why, except the theory outlined in my article about how testing ivermectin on poultry was inadvertently overlooked. I'll say it again - please read my article properly and in context. I've never stated ivermectin is "legal" to use on poultry but lots of people do including me who has researched the use of ivermection in chickens ad nausium.

In regards to DE, my guess is it works about as good as dust does and chickens have been doing this themselves since creation. I personally am not convinced DE will rid a severe mite infestation or clear up other problems like scaly leg mite on chickens - I've read and heard too many other opinions against the use of DE which has formulated my view but I'll concede I've never actually tried it myself and probably never will.

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