Signs and Symptoms of Mites in Poultry

Written by michael e carpenter
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Signs and Symptoms of Mites in Poultry
A reduction in egg production is an indicator of a mite infestation. (Thinkstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images)

Mites are external parasites that suck the blood of poultry birds. Three types of mites that affect poultry include the northern fowl mite, also called the tropical fowl mite in tropical regions, the chicken mite, or red roost mite, and the scaly leg mite. The signs and symptoms of a mite infestation will affect the flock in general. If any of these symptoms appear, it is advisable to inspect the birds for mites.

Reduced Weight Gain

Poultry birds used for food will bring more money for larger sizes. A symptom of a severe mite infestation is reduced weight in the birds, resulting from the fact that infected birds tend to eat less.

Reduced Egg Production

With an infestation of mites the poultry will also begin to show a reduction in egg production. This too is related to not eating as much and the reduced weight of the birds. The poultry will be dealing with blood loss from the mites and open sores on their bodies, which do not allow their bodies to produce eggs at the same level as healthy birds.


If a flock shows an increased level of sickness and mortality rates, it may be infested with mites. Mites compromise the birds' immune systems, preventing them from fighting off diseases that they typically would have little problem combating if there were no mites.


If you see any of the general symptoms associated with a mite infestation, it is advisable to inspect the birds. Blow on the feathers of the birds and count the mites that are visible. A bird with five mites visible during this inspection may have between 100 and 300 mites. If the bird has nine visible mites, it may have up to 32,000 mites living on it at any one time. Test for mites during the dusk or evening. The chicken mite is nocturnal and will not be present on the bird during the day.


Treatment of a mite infestation varies, but cleanliness and disinfecting the living quarters of the poultry are paramount. The housing for the poultry must be thoroughly cleaned, with a focus on cracks and crevices where additional lice may be hiding. Dusting with chemicals is common. Birds may be treated individually if a flock is small by dusting each bird in a garbage bag. The flock should have no access to wild birds, which is one way in which the mites are transferred, and human traffic should be limited as much as possible to avoid transfers. Scaly leg mites can be reduced by dipping the birds' legs and feet into linseed oil and rubbing them with a petroleum jelly.

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