Northern Fowl Mites are an aggressive type of chicken mite and unlike Red Mites live on the birds themselves feeding around the clock. The insects will be visible during the day as small red/brown insects and various degrees, depending upon the level of infestation, of tell tale discolouration around the feathers will be present, due to the eggs and waste of this mite.
The chickens will soon suffer from severe Anaemia as the mites feed on their blood. They will stop laying, suffer loss of appetite, their combs and wattles will become pale and feathers will quickly become damaged, with increasing bald patches appearing as they scratch themselves. If left untreated the birds will eventually die.
Prevention and Treatment
Prevention of Northern Fowl Mite is difficult as it is passed from wild birds to the chickens and then from bird to bird within the flock. in addition the life cycle, that is the time from egg laid to a laying adult, can be less than 7 days, so a major infestation can happen quickly.
Early detection and prevention remains the best way to control these pests. Keep the chicken coop and bedding clean and fresh and regular scrubbing of the coop and nesting boxes with a product such as Poultry Shield is the main defense. In addition inspect your birds regularly and be on the look out for scratching behaviour especially to the head and ear area. Always ensure that the birds can take a dust bath when they wish.
Treat infested chickens with a louse and mite dusting powder as instructed on the label, a product such as Diatom Earth is also effective in killing mites. If the infestation is severe or for advice on a particular mite treatment, especially an internally taken remedy we advise contacting a qualified veterinarian.
Mites can cause severe irritaion to human skin and can crawl up your arms when you are treating or examining an infected bird. It is advisable to change your clothes and shower after contact with the birds.