Curious about how lice might affect your flock?

There are many types of poultry lice, some of the most common species include:

  • Shaft Louse: This is one of the more serious species. It feeds on a bird's feathers.
  • Fluff Louse: This is one of the smaller species, about 1 mm long. You can find this louse living and feeding on fluff under the vent.
  • Chicken Body Louse: This is the most common species, and is the most well known. It can be found in areas around the vent, breast, underneath the wings, and head. 
  • Chicken Head Louse: This louse eats at scales of the skin. It is commonly found on the neck and head.
  • Wing Louse: You can find this louse living and feeding on the barbules of wing feathers. When serious infestations occur, the skin of the bird is left bare. 

Causes

It is pretty natural for chickens to get lice due to their natural environment and surroundings. Chickens can also pick up lice from wild birds. Additionally, if their living area is exceptionally dirty and small, it is easier for lice to multiply.

Signs

Fortunately, signs of lice infestations are easy to spot. Pay special attention to your flock because they will show signs if they are infested with lice.

Common symptoms include: 

  • Dirty Vents
  • Pale Combs/Wattles
  • Wings drooping
  • Chickens scratching/picking at themselves
  • Missing feathers/bald patches
  • Fatigue
  • Feathers that look like they've been eaten on 
  • Egg production has slowed (can be symptoms related to something else)
  • Noticeable lice/lice eggs

Prevention

There are a few ways to prevent lice in your flock. Constantly keeping an eye on your flock, will help significantly in spotting lice early on. If you are growing your flock, be sure to quarantine new birds for at least a month. This ensures that the new birds do not spread anything they might have to the rest of your flock. Finally, be sure to provide your chickens with an area to dust bathe

What to Do if Your Flock Has Lice 

  • Remove your chickens from their coop
  • Dust your chickens with food-grade diatomaceous earth 
  • Add protein and iron into your chicken's diet
  • Completely clean out your chicken coop - burn the bedding
  • Dust your chickens again

It is important to thoroughly clean areas where your chickens commonly reside. Ridding your chickens of lice will do them no good if they are returned to an area that is infested with lice.