Of Mites and Hens

Yes folks, I CRACK myself up.

Anyway, Eric got a call the other day from a stranger.  The stranger began the conversation with, “I got mites in my house.  Do you know how to get rid of them.”  Eric politely inquired, “Uhh, what?”  The stranger continued, “I thought I would call a chicken farmer to find out what to do about mites.  Don’t your chickens get mites.  I heard that was a big problem with chickens.”  Eric replied, “Not with our chickens it’s not.”  The stranger continued, “Don’t you spray your chickens down with something to prevent mites?”  Eric said, “Well, our hens are raised on pasture and parasites like mites do not accumulate because we move them around and allow the landscape to come into balance before returning to it with chickens.  Also, chickens will take dust baths to prevent these sorts of problems.” To this, the stranger quipped, “So, you want me to get my family to take dust baths?”  Eric agreed that this was the best course of action and the conversation ended.

More on dust baths:  It’s really interesting to watch. They dig a hole about the size of themselves. They sit down in it and fling dirt all over themselves. Then they flap about in the hole. You can tell they really enjoy it. A dust bath is to a chicken, what a water bath is to us. The fine dirt helps kill lice, mites and anything else that may be close to the skin. It’s kinda like a big exfoliation.



About saltforkfarms

A small organic farm in Iowa that raises Standard Breed laying hens and hybrid broiler chickens suited for a pasture-based system, as well as varieties of vegetables and fruit suitable to our Eastern Iowa climate. We grow food, we eat food, we sell food!
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8 Responses to Of Mites and Hens

  1. Lori says:

    I love watching our girls take dust baths. They have a particular spot in the yard where two or three of them will snuggle in side by side, flinging soil at one another and all about. The other hens gather, watch, and patiently wait until a spot frees up and then they jump in, seeming to take turns like this. It’s funny because they’re so competitive with each other over things like bugs and food scraps, but when it comes to dust baths, they seem to have some unspoken rule about respecting each others’ space. And you’re right, they really DO seem to enjoy it thoroughly!

  2. Anti Jen says:

    Oooooooooh! So THAT’S what they’re doing! Just found your blog! Awesome!

  3. Eve says:

    I’m glad you found it Jen, welcome! You will have to forgive my not so great writing. I remember my 6th grade teacher telling me, “you shouldn’t become a writer.”

    Yes, your birds will start digging in the yard. It’s really important they do it. I can’t remember, is your coop mobile? The yard may have some not so pretty places, but if you have a couple places you can alternate it will keep them happy!

  4. Anti Jen says:

    i wish it was on wheels, but it’s incredibly heavy and the original wheels josh wanted to use were those tiny roller wheels, which would’ve just dug into the ground. what we need are those big old rubber wheels, like you see on trashcarts in europe. maybe i’ll look next time i’m at the hardware store, because yes, it’s a pretty devastated area in the yard. true, it was just creeping charlie before, so i don’t really feel bad. but i’m pretty sure they’d like a little fresh ground. we let them out to graze twice a day, tho. i love that they’re taking dust baths!

  5. Eve says:

    I think Farmer Eric will be building another hen wagon this winter. We also seem to be collecting tires in various shapes. If there is anything we can do to help, just let us know. We are so glad you are keeping chickens!

  6. Anti Jen says:

    i did have someone say to me a few days ago that her dad’s retinas detached from toxoplasmosis, so that sort of freaked me out. i’ve got to buy a face mask for hay changing days!

  7. Eve says:

    Yeah, a good number of farmers get both histo and toxoplamosis. I did start using gloves to gather eggs and clean out the hen boxes when I was pregnant. I’ve just continued the practice.

    You could also put the coop on a sled type of system. We do that with the broiler tractors.

  8. Anti Jen says:

    can you take a picture of that? i have a little storage bin in the coop itself, so i can store gloves, facemask, in there. sam will need to do it, too. he’s really into the chickens and i’ve caught him hanging in the coop a couple times. so i’ll have to sit him down …

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