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If you have hens or roosters, it’s important to look out for signs of parasites, including mites, lice, and worms. Hens and roosters require treatment for mites, lice, and worms every 3-6 months. Neglecting parasite treatment on your hens can result in very harmful repercussions, such as:

  • sickness
  • itching
  • tummy pains
  • illness
  • painful feet and legs
  • scales growing off the body
  • loss of feathers
  • poo on the eggs
  • unhealthy eggs
  • decreased egg production.

To help you keep your feathered companions healthy, we’ve compiled a guide on how to prevent and treat mites, lice, and worms on hens and roosters.

Diatomaceous earth
Diatomaceous earth is a naturally derived powder that repels pests, including lice, mites, worms, fleas, and mosquitos. The name diatomaceous earth may sound intimidating, but the process is actually quite simple. All you need to do is sprinkle a superfine grade of diatomaceous earth on the ground and bedding that your hens tend to hang around in, as well as in the dirt areas they love to take dust bathe in. Dustbathing, especially in dirt sprinkled with diatomaceous earth, is also a great way for your hens to obtain another layer of protection from mites and lice.

Thoroughly dusting your hens with diatomaceous earth will help smother lice and mites. By the end of this treatment, your hen should be completely covered in white. To stop mites and lice from laying eggs and spreading, this treatment should be done once a month.

When using diatomaceous earth to manage mites and lice, be sure to use protective gear such as a mask and eye protection. While diatomaceous earth is a commonly used parasite repellent, some people experience negative reactions to the substance, including irritated nasal passages. To prevent this, take extra care when handling diatomaceous earth to limit its ingestion.

Agricultural lime
Another substance that can help ward off parasites in your hens’ coop is agricultural lime, also known as aglime or garden lime. Spreading aglime into your coop, particularly in bedding and nesting boxes, can deter the presence of lice, mites, and fleas. A great time to spread aglime into your hens’ bedding is when you’re cleaning out the coop and the hens are not in the coop. Aglime can also be sprinkled into the dirt areas your hens take dust baths in, and can be added in addition to diatomaceous earth.

Similarly to diatomaceous earth, aglime may result in a reaction from some people. Therefore, always wear gloves when you’re handling the substance to prevent excessive contact with the skin.

Coconut oil
Coconut oil can also be used as a natural remedy for lice and mites on hens. In particular, it is commonly used to treat scaly leg mites. Applying a generous amount of coconut oil on your hens’ legs will help suffocate the existing scaly leg mites and reduce the risk of the mites spreading to other hens. Your hens may not like this process; to keep them from flapping their wings and trying to get away, gently hold their wings to their body while applying the coconut oil.  

For best application, keep the coconut oil in the fridge. This allows the oil to harden and thicken so it is able to be easily scooped from the jar and applied on your hens.

Clean coop
Worms thrive in swampy conditions, so keeping your hens out of mud and wet grounds is key to preventing worm infections. If your hens get a little too muddy, dry them off before they spread mud all over their coop.

Many parasites, especially worms, can be spread through hen poo. Parasites can live and even lay eggs inside your hens, and then be passed out through your hens’ droppings, resulting in cyclical infections and transmission to other hens. Therefore, it is important to make sure your coop is consistently cleaned with dry bedding. Hens often leave droppings in their food and water, increasing the risk of parasites spreading through ingesting infected droppings. Ensuring your hens have clean food and water is an effective way to prevent parasites like worms from taking over your coop.

In addition to having clean water, another anti-worm trick is to put a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar into the hens’ drinking water. Apple cider vinegar acts as a mild antiseptic and a mild antibiotic, so adding it to your hens’ drinking water may assist in killing bacteria and germs internally. If your hen has intestinal worms, this is a great natural treatment to kill the worms.

For more guidance and information, check out our YouTube video featuring our CEO & founder Donna Wild showing a natural lice and mite treatment for hens.