My friend has 4 sweet little chickens. I know they are wonderful because they were part of our flock originally. We wanted to get her set up with some fresh eggs from her own backyard quickly and that was the best way possible.
She called me about a week ago, and said that one of the hens was losing her back feathers.“It’s probably molting”, I said. However, the other hens weren’t losing their feathers, and she looked miserable. Upon further inspection, we found the culprit. Lice.
Lice in chickens can come out of seemingly nowhere, and make a chicken very miserable.
I can imagine that they are itchy (although I have never been a chicken so I can’t attest to that for fact) and quite often, the bird will lose feathers. Most of the time, a free range, or even outdoor bird can easily take care of the issue themselves by taking daily dust baths. But, what do you do when your dirt is all packed down and the chicken can’t get a proper dust bath?
You can place some cooled wood ash and dirt mixture in the coop area. This will help the bird get more of a dust bath and suffocate the little bugs. I usually have some in their coop during the winter months, when their yard is all covered with snow.
You can use diatomaceous earth. (find it here)Gently holding the bird you want to sprinkle the DE (not pool grade-you want to use food grade) over the entire body. I sprinkle about a cup in their dust bath area to help as well. The DE cuts the lice and kills them.
Once one chicken has lice, you are sure to have it spread. The best defense against lice infecting your whole flock is to treat them all. And to use preventative measures like having loose dirt for a dust bath, and DE sprinkled in it.