Treating Chickens for Poultry Lice - How do I break the cycle?

Asked November 7, 2018, 1:16 PM EST

I recently discovered an infestation of what I believe are poultry lice on my birds. Two days ago, I dusted each bird with Permethrin poultry dust around the vent and under the wings, but am already seeing more bugs on vents.

I have 6 hens in a 4 x 9 coop/run (sand floor) who normally range daily in a 20 x 30 chicken yard under some oak trees (sandy but more deep-litter mulchy, plants/stumps -- would be hard to clean thoroughly). Before dusting, I did a once-over inside the coop/run for old feathers (some are in a molt) to decrease the nits, and have kept them in the closed coop/run rather than ranging them, as I am afraid of dropped feathers in the range yard causing a reinfestation. I have assumed I need to re-dust, but am unsure how many times/days between to ensure I break the cycle.

What can you tell me??

Orange County Florida poultry

6 Responses

It generally requires several treatments 7-10 days apart. Treating once will kill the adults but not the eggs.

Thanks, Joe. I have now treated at least 4 times with the dust but I’m either not getting them all or am dealing with the ladies getting reinfested. I’ve even been trying to dust their necks, as I believe the problem started in the beard of one of my newer pullets. Should I keep using permithrin or try something else?

Have you cleaned out the litter in the poultry house? This will harbor parasites. You need to clean out the house and dust before putting down clean litter. You should also dust the run.

Yes, my chicken house and run have mostly sand, though I sometimes add DE or wood ash. Other than straw that occasionally falls out of the nest boxes, I do not use other litter, so it stays as dry as possible and scoopable. There is no way I can "clean" or treat the entire 20x30 range yard...

When you say "dust the run," what do you mean? Just the wood? Surely you don't mean dumping the dust on the sand...? And how much?

On the last dusting of the birds this Saturday, it seems that the lice are moving from the vent area to the neck/beard area of my ladies, which is VERY hard to treat without getting it in their eyes or having them freak out and risk injury. I am considering calling it a day with this Permithrin dust for a while in favor of something oral or even injectable... Do you have any recommendations?

You don't need much of the permethrin in the sand. Just a sprinkle. The birds will dust bath and treat themselves.
There are no oral or injectable parasite treatments approved for poultry - especially egg layers.