Red Mite in Poultry

Red mite is a common disease of both commercial and backyard chickens and turkeys. The mites live in crevices and corners of poultry houses, emerging at night to feed on the birds. This means they can be hard to detect, especially when numbers are low.

However, red mites can cause feather pecking, loss of body condition, reduced egg production, pale combs and wattles, and in severe cases can even cause anaemia and death.  

Red mites are difficult to treat as they aren’t always present on the birds, and mites living in housing are hard to reach and will reinfect treated birds once treatment has worn off. Mites can survive for several months in housing without birds being present. 

Traditionally, red mite control has been focussed on killing the mites in the environment – this is achieved by thoroughly cleaning out housing, and then treating the internal surfaces with products such as creosote. 

More recently, a treatment called Exzolt has become available that is given to the birds in their drinking water, and kills mites on the birds. Until now, this product has only been available in large quantities suitable for commercial use, making it an extremely expensive way to treat red mite in smaller flocks. However, Exzolt is now available in a smaller sized bottle, and in addition we will be keeping an open bottle in stock at the practice so that we can dispense exactly the amount needed to individual clients – making it far more cost effective for smaller flocks!

Exzolt needs to be given twice, seven days apart. However, we would also advise continuing to clean and treat poultry housing regularly to reduce the environmental burden, as once the treatment wears off mites will be able to reinfect the birds. If you are interested in using Exzolt or want more information on red mite control give us a call.