All poultry have some lice at some time in their lives. Lice are extremely irritating to your chickens and they will if left cause them to injure themselves through excessive scratching and preening. Severe infestation can also prove deadly to small chicks.
Lice can be spotted with the naked eye. If you examine your chicken’s feathers, you might spot these small pale insects crawling around the base of the feathers and you may also see clusters of their eggs on the stems of the feathers. Lice particularly like the warm area under the wings and vent. Symptoms of lice include, weight loss, reduced egg yield and a dirty vent area.
A specialist lice powder for chickens should be applied as per the instructions on the product. You will need to apply the powder to every bird in your flock, infected or not as lice can survive for up to 5 days without a host bird to feed on and can reproduce in just 3 weeks. As lice eggs are resistant to the powders, the treatment will have to be applied 7-10 days after the first to kill off the next louse generation before they have a chance to breed.
Regular cleaning and safe disposal of bedding and poultry litter will help reduce the likelihood of lice problems. You should also change bedding and clean the coop thoroughly with a product such as Poultry Shield, before allowing the birds back in after they have been treated for lice.
Always make sure your chickens have access to a clean dust bath so that they may keep the lice under control naturally.