Labor of Love
Spouse and I spent Labor Day improving our chickens’ lives.
My labor of love. At the beginning of the weekend we discovered that one of our birds had mites and chicken lice (not related to the lice people get, and doesn’t affect people – thank goodness!). I was kind of mortified when my nephew showed me the red and white bugs crawling on the bird. I work hard to keep things clean!!! And I hadn’t noticed any of the typical signs of the creepy crawlies on the birds:
- feather loss
- irritated looking skin
- excessive preening or scratching
- head shaking
- pink looking combs and/or waddles
- decreased egg-laying
After reading a bit, I learned about mites and chicken lice. There are several things you can do to keep them at bay:
- Keep your coop is clean and dry – Check. I usually clean it twice a week.
- Make sure your chickens have places where they can take dust baths – Check. Our chickens dust bathe everywhere. The have little dust swimming pools in the corral, in chicken hollow, under the hosta and on top of the septic tank riser that I had dug out in the spring.
- Treat coops, nesting material, chickens and dust baths with Diatomaceous Earth (DE). You can even put food-grade DE in their food.
- For severe infestations, you can use an insecticide like Permethrin.
So today, I waited until the chickens were done laying, then I cleaned the coop and scrubbed the inside down with a mild bleach solution, making sure I got into every crack. After that dried, I sprayed the wood on the inside of the coop with some fly spray I had left over from the horses (it contains permethrin). Then I let the coop air out. When I put the bedding and shavings back in, I liberally sprinkled DE in everything.
But the real fun began tonight. In the stealth of night, Spouse and I snuck up on the coop. He held out one chicken after another while I dusted the bird with DE. I put a lot of it under the wings and around the vent (as instructed). Yes, that’s right, I fondled 15 chicken butts tonight (we only did the birds living in the coop tonight.)
Once Spouse is done building coop #2 (see below) I plan to move the, hopefully now parasite-free, flock over to that one while I paint the inside of coop #1. Mites like to live in wood and I am hoping that by covering cracks and crevices with paint I can discourage them in the future.
That and a good frost should take care of them!
Spouse’s labor of love. Today Spouse spent the day building another chicken coop. Coop #1 is great – he did a wonderful job designing it and it is always well-ventilated and easy to clean. The only problem is, we now have more chickens than we planned for.
Spouse doesn’t have a lot of free time. It’s just the nature of his job. And I probably don’t tell him nearly enough how much I appreciate the time he spends on making my dreams a reality.
I know this wasn’t a labor of love for the chickens, no matter how much I try to pretend it is. It was for me. 🙂