Chicken lice are an unfortunate fact of life when you raise poultry. No matter how clean you keep your coop and how meticulously you care for your chickens, sooner or later, lice are bound to strike.
Lice tend to find their way to your chickens via wild birds in the area. Like many of the common chicken pests, once they set up shop, they’re going to stick around, unless you make the effort to eradicate them. Through trial and error we’ve come up with this natural chicken lice treatment that truly works, and it’s pretty inexpensive to boot!
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Natural Chicken Lice Treatment
Supplies to Treat Chicken Lice
- A shallow box or bin
- A Dust Mask
- Safety Goggles
- Lice infested chickens
- 1 bag Diatomaceous Earth
- 1 can wood ash
The wood ash can be sourced from a fire pit or wood stove. Any wood ash will work, as long as it hasn’t gotten wet and is completely cooled. It’s okay if it still has a few chunks of charcoal in it, there’s no need to be too picky.
The safety goggles and dust mask are for your protection. There will be dust flying everywhere, and believe me, you don’t want to inhale it or get it in your eyes. Please be careful when conducting this natural chicken lice treatment!
Step 1: Mix the Dusting Powder
Start off in a well ventilated area close to the coop. We like to dust the chickens in the chicken run, because there’s plenty of fresh air and it’s fenced in, so there’s no risk of chickens escaping.
Carefully pour the diatomaceous earth and wood ash into your bin or box. You need these to go into the box in equal parts but there’s no need to measure, this isn’t exactly rocket science!
Stir the wood ash and DE to combine, being careful not to disturb it too much or it will go airborne.
Step 2: Dust the Chicken
This step is much easier with a partner. Chickens magically develop super strength when they’re stressed out, and this step absolutely will stress them out. It’s tough to hold the chicken and dust her at the same time, if you can find some poor sucker who’s willing to help with this step, do so!
Gather one chicken at a time and bring them to the dusty bin. Hold the chicken’s wings against her body and put her head under your arm. Putting the hen’s head under your arm will make her feel calmer and you’ll be less likely to get frantic flapping chicken wings in your face.
Starting with the vent, dust the chicken generously with the DE/wood ash mixture. Hold the chicken over the box while you do this, so any excess dust falls back into the box. The hen does not need to be in the box, and it’s probably better if she isn’t because if her feet touch solid ground she’ll no doubt use that against you to try to escape.
Next dust under the chicken’s wings, along her abdomen, and across her back. There’s no need to get the dust all up her neck or around her face, you want to keep as much as this out of her lungs as possible so focus mostly on the body. While dusting make sure to ruffle the feathers so the dust gets on the chicken’s skin as much as possible.
Step 3: Repeat to Eliminate Successive Hatchings
The previous step helped to kill the lice that were already on your hens, but guess what? Before you killed them, those lice laid eggs, and those eggs are going to hatch into new lice. If you look carefully at your chickens feathers you may see the eggs, they’ll appear as a white cluster around the feather shaft. Unfortunately there’s no easy way to kill chicken lice eggs, so you’ll have to wait until they hatch and then wreak havoc on them.
Repeat step 2 once every week until there are no more signs of lice on your chickens. This usually takes 2-3 weeks of treatments. I know it’s an disgusting job and no one wants to do it, but if you don’t keep up with treatments every week the lice will never die.
To prevent future outbreaks of chicken lice, you’ll need to help your chickens do what they do best, take dust baths! Set up a dust bin/box in the chicken run with equal parts wood ash, Diatomaceous Earth, and soil or sand. Cover the dust bathing area to protect it from rain, wood ash and rain don’t mix well! Having a dust bathing area available will encourage your chickens to bathe more often, which will help keep lice from ever becoming a problem again.
Treat Chicken Pests in Your Flock
Pests are a sad reality of owning chickens. Here are some common pests and what you can to do banish them from your flock.