Not sure if you have a mite problem or not? SMITE the MITE

Not sure if you have a mite problem or not? SMITE the MITE

Nov 24, 2022Chook Manor

The Dreaded RED MITE

Smite Professional is an extremely powerful, low odour, disinfectant cleaner and degreaser which has proved itself to be an effective eliminator of micro-organisms, bacteria and viruses.  Removes build-ups of organic matter the habitat where red mite and other parasites thrive efficiently dissolving the pests waxy coatings and deposits.

  • Powerful biocidal disinfectant which kills micro-organisms, bacteria and viruses.
  • Pleasant odour.
  • Easy to use dosing pump
  • Incredibly economical only 3-6% dilution required (1lt. makes up to 34 lt. of treatment)
  • Super efficient degreaser and cleaner - ideal for removing organic matter where mite parasites breed and thrive
  • Suitable for all animal housing, not just chooks!
  • One product does it all Smite! Clean and disinfect save time and money!
  • Clear easy to follow instructions are included on each pack

Use in conjunction with Smite Organic DE Powder for better results. 

The RED MITE, Dermanyssus gallinae is a very prolific external parasite of birds which can be very difficult to eradicate partly because the mite can survive for several months between feeds so they are often in situ just waiting for the arrival of a new flock.

Mites feed largely on blood of the birds but also on feathers, skin or scales. Each blood feed will take up to 2 hours after which the mite will leave the birds and return to hide in cracks and crevices in the poultry housing where they lay their eggs returning to the birds again the following night.  It is easy to miss their presence if examining a bird or coop during daylight.

Heavy mite infestations in chickens lead to high levels of stress and can result in anaemia, reduced egg production and eventually if not treated death so the effects of red mite are of considerable economic importance when considering production costs not to mention animal welfare.

Additionally mite can transmit diseases such as the chicken pox virus, newcastle disease, fowl typhoid and salmonella as well as causing dermatitis and mange. When disturbed they could also bite interfering humans and can cause a type of dermatitis.  At one time it was thought that mite only tended to live in wooden structures but they are now found on both plastic and metal anywhere that is as near to their next meal as possible.

The tiny mite vary in appearance depending on when they last fed a mite is only red when it has consumed blood recently and changes colour again through black to grey as the interval between feeds increases. When checking housing areas for mite a tell-tale grey ash around crevices is evidence of mite faeces but the best time to examine a house is at night when the mite can often be seen with the aid of a torch both on and off the bird.

Symptoms of Red Mite Infestation.

  • Pale, jaundiced faces and wattles through anaemia.
  • Depressed birds lacking vitality.
  • Emaciation or even weight gain.
  • Decreased egg production.
  • Increase in feed intake coupled with decreased egg production.
  • Dark dots and speckles on normally plain eggs they may be blood spots or on closer inspection you may see the speckles move.
  • In extreme cases feather loss and signs of dermatitis.
  • Whitish-grey ash (mite faeces) around the edges of crevices and in trails along and under perches.
  • Active red mite on housing which glow in the light of a torch at night (underneath the roofing felt is a favourite place for mite to hide!) 
  • Hens may avoid a nesting box which is particularly badly infected.

TIP: Never assume that red mite are the problem if you can't find any physical signs of them at all remember most sick hens display some similar symptoms whatever the cause. If in doubt just ask us or a good avian vet.

The Red Mite Life Cycle

Mites feed on the bird under cover of darkness each night and return to their crevices during the day mite eggs are laid in crevices in the housing. Their tiny eggs are pearly white and oval and size approximately 0.4mm x 0.25mm. After 2-3 days in warm conditions (longer in cooler weather) the eggs hatch into 6-legged larvae.  Within 24 hours the larvae moult into 8-legged protonymphs which start to feed on the roosting birds.  Protonymphs then moult into deutonymphs, which continue to feed before moulting again to become adult male or female red mite. 

In warm favourable conditions this whole life-cycle can be completed within seven to ten days which means that mite populations in poultry housing grow very rapidly during the summer months. But warmer winters means that mites are now continuing to reproduce though at a slower rate so there is need for increased vigilance to keep populations in check. 

Mite can survive for several months without a feed and have been known to lie dormant for years. When hidden in cracks they are very resistant to desiccation so cleaning out and leaving a house empty will not prevent mites reappearing when birds are reintroduced. Mites can be carried by wild birds and prevailing winds so can appear even when there has been no previous evidence of infestation.

Red Mite in common with lice and other arachnids (spider-type creatures with eight legs) have a waxy exoskeleton (hard outer covering), without this shell, they will rapidly dry out (desiccate) and die. One of the best methods of attacking Red Mite therefore is to use a strong degreasing compound which dissolves the exoskeleton and rapidly kills the mite by desiccation. This method has the advantage that it is impossible for the mite to build resistance, a growing problem with many pesticides, and means that the same treatment can be applied repeatedly to keep the infestation under control. For this, we use and highly recommend Smite Professional.

Smite Professional is a specially selected super-strength degreaser, disinfectant & cleaner with excellent wetting properties which has been proven highly effective at eliminating Red Mite in poultry housing. It is pleasant to use for both the operator and the birds, is safe, economical, biodegradable and contains no pesticides.

TIP: Do Not water / pressure blast your coop as this will only disturb mite nests and spread them around and potentially cause a bigger problem for future coop treatment. 

Shop Smite Professional.

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