How to Get Rid of Fleas on Chickens

Updated July 20, 2017

There are many parasites that will target a backyard flock, but fleas are some of the most tenacious and difficult to eradicate. Even if you remove them from the chickens themselves, they can still continue living in the coop and reinfect your birds. Fortunately, there are methods to protect your chickens not only from fleas, but from other parasites as well.

Remove all floor litter, roosts and nesting material as soon as you spot fleas on your chickens or in your chicken coop. Dispose of them by burning if possible and replace the roosts with clean roosts.

Measure four tablespoons of 55-percent malathion spray per gallon of water and pour into squirt bottle.

Apply generous amounts of the malathion-and-water mixture to the bases of walls, the clean roosts, the empty nests, the floor and the ground around the chicken coop, taking care not to contaminate food or water sources.

Use your scoop to apply generous amounts of diatomaceous earth (DE) to the bare floor of the chicken coop once the malathion-and-water mixture has dried. Cover with shavings.

Apply layers of diatomaceous earth in between layers of hay in the nest boxes.

Add a small amount of diatomaceous earth to the chickens' dusting area.

Use your scoop to apply a generous perimeter of diatomaceous earth around the chicken yard.

Use your sieve or flour sifter to sprinkle diatomaceous earth into the chickens' feathers.

Wait 10 to 14 days; then repeat. You may have to repeat this process two or three times before you have broken the fleas' life cycle.


If you scatter diatomaceous earth by hand, wear rubber or plastic gloves to keep your skin from getting too dry. Replace your roosts two or three times per year to avoid parasites.


Diatomaceous earth can be harmful if inhaled. Do not apply on a windy day or around small chicks. Wear a face mask for extra protection. Malathion belongs to the same chemical class as tear gas and sarin, so take care not to contaminate your chickens' food or water with it or use the tablespoon that came in contact with it for anything else. Nonfood-grade diatomaceous earth, used for filtering and often referred to as "pool grade," is carcinogenic. Do not use anything but food-grade diatomaceous earth, which will be labelled as "Chemical Codex Food Grade."

Things You'll Need

  • Bottle of 55-percent malathion spray
  • Tablespoon measure
  • Water
  • Squirt bottle
  • Tub of food-grade diatomaceous earth
  • One-cup food scoop
  • Sieve or flour sifter
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About the Author

Deanna Baran lives in Texas and is a librarian and former museum curator. Although she primarily writes for children and young adults, she regularly shares her interest in history, gardening, and animal husbandry through her articles.