Warning Friends: There is a picture in here of graphic buggy grossness. If like me, you get the willies from odd textures (bumps trypophobia pox or anything else that resembles a puss filled sack of something that will make you puke) do not scroll down.
It has been 7 days since we vaccinated everyone on the farmstead for Marek’s Disease, and I am happy to report so far we have healthy birds. We are certainly not out of the woods, but as promised I want to dialogue this whole process as much as possible. Hopefully to give you an understanding of everything we went through to help spread education and resources to anyone interested in providing the best animal care for their flocks.
On handling the “Petals”, it appears our lice problem flared back up. As mentioned we knew early on into the bio security separation and inclusion of these birds into our flock, that they had numerous issues. Lice is not that uncommon unfortunately. Luckily most flocks combat infestations of lice and mites through the process of dust baths. Dust, wood ash, little DE and you have a cocktail that keeps birds free from most of these. This year however was our year to learn.
Insert puke noises now.
In the photo at the top of the blog Iris appears to have “dust” on her face. Closer inspections shows the tell-tale “q-tip” formations at the base of the feather shaft and clusters around her head and vent. Under the wings you will see what appear to be tiny straw dust particles that then suddenly MOVE! Boom yuck screech go the wheels in my head… Lice. My OCD now tells me I am itchy and must bath in bleach.
Here’s some things to make note of:
Back when we started all the meds before we got confirmation of Marek’s from the GPLN – we dusted the girls in DE. Huge respiratory issues. Not saying it was the cause, I do believe in light DE use. But honestly, if it irritates my eyes and nose, I am not going to drown my birds in it. Sorry. Also coming from Vet input: DE will not remove a lice infestation. It can assist in alleviating scratching itchy and kill current adult louse. Eggs have hatch stages.
1- Clean the coop and remove all feathers bedding and anything that lice could be attached to.
2- Give it a good scrubbing – probably been awhile so get in there with the hose and any organic cleaner you prefer. This is just to do some good hygiene while you take care of the problem. It’s not going to remove the problem but it always helps to start with a clean slate.
3- Permethrin 10% – People have also recommended Elector- PSP. I chose this because it was suggested by my vet knowing my preferred earth keeping ways. I have yet to find an “organic” treatment. You have to eradicate lice, not encourage them to participate differently and kindly. Their hosts are your chickens. They’re not leaving unless you kill the suckers.
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4- Move your birds to an outside area to dust bathe and enjoy the sun. If you have two separate flocks going for bio security still – it’s not hard to create two different spaces. But you need to do ALL coops runs and houses for both flocks. They need to be out of the area for at least 4 hours for everything to dry nicely. Spray that sh*t like you are at a bubble party.
5- Dry the houses. Pull a Game of Thrones and start dipping the birds. Because I was concerned to get the babies fully wet given recent health concerns we did a fine mist under the wings, vent and cotton ball the head neck and around the ears thoroughly.
Seven days in – Iris is CONSIDERABLY bug free. There are a few eggs that either have not shed died or she has not dusted off. At the 14 day mark we will again spray crazy, mist the girls rinse and repeat. This goes through multiple hatch phases. There is no egg withdrawal.
Phlox and Camilla enjoying some sunshine and fresh grass clippings.
We handle our birds daily and honestly it is probably the best way to detect any health issues. With one illness down, summer heat relief in progress, and now the buggy problem moving to being removed, the girls really should start feeling good.
Planning for next year: I will begin spraying as the weather warms up.
Please ask questions !