Chicken keepers are being encouraged to get rid of red mite ahead of winter to lessen the possible burden next spring.

While some of us may welcome warm summer weather, it can provide perfect conditions for red mite populations to thrive, making infestations in your chicken coop far more likely.

“Red mite love the warm climate, which means that during peak summer, it can take as little as seven days for them to move from the egg stage of their lifecycle to an adult,” explains Steve Smith, EBVS® European Veterinary Specialist in Avian Medicine and Surgery.

“This means that many pet chicken owners have seen a big increase in red mite in their coops, and their chickens suffering as a result, just a few weeks after the warm period occurred.”

Steve warns that getting on top of these possible infestations now is key, “Red mite are generally less active in colder weather but can lay dormant for up to nine months1. During this time, red mite will hide in cracks and crevasses of the coop making owners think they are no longer present.

“As soon as the weather begins to warm up next year, the dormant mite will become active again and will begin to feed off your chickens, which can lead to a number of ailments including stress, anaemia, lethargy and death in extreme cases.

“The best way to avoid this is by making sure you have cleared red mite from your coop by the autumn so that there isn’t a resident population over winter,” adds Steve.

 As well as treating the chickens with an effective treatment prescribed by your vet when there is a known problem, Steve is reminding owners to consider other methods alongside this which can help prevent red mite infestations from occurring.

“When treating your chickens, don’t forget to incorporate other environmental measures, for example cleaning and disinfecting the coop from muck and dirt before the winter weather sets in.

“If you have any new additions to your chicken flock, make sure they spend around two weeks on their own before being added to the group, as this will significantly help reduce the risk of introducing red mite to your healthy chickens,” concludes Steve.

This information was provided by MSD Animal Health UK, manufacturer of EXZOLT® 50ml.