Farm Animal Health: Spraying the Hen House, Lameness in Horses, Saddle Sores in Horses and More

The benefits and drawbacks of spraying the henhouse with malathion, the cause of distorted snouts in Hampshire feeder pigs, preventing and treating lameness in horses, the causes of canine limping and more.

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    Veterinarian Andrea Looney answers common questions about animal health and conditions.

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Dear Andrea:

I have 45 chickens ranging in age from 10 months to two years. Last year I sprayed the henhouse once a month with malathion to keep away lice and mites brought in by visiting wild birds. I'm not keen on using the malathion. What are your suggestions?

-Molly Stanley Address withheld by request  

Dear Molly:

The most common species of mites which infect chickens are the chicken mite, the northern fowl mite, and the tropical fowl mite. There are over 40 species of lice that can be found on poultry. Mites are smaller than lice and while mites feed on blood alone, most lice can feed on bits of feather, skin, and blood. Both can cause anemia, unthriftiness, and even death, especially in young birds. The chicken mite is particularly serious in warmer parts of the States. Adult female mites lay eggs within 12-24 hours of attachment. Some females are so hardy that they can survive up to 30 weeks or more without food. These mites can affect turkeys, pigeons, canaries, and several species of wild birds. Sparrows are thought to transmit the mite.

Malathion is an organophosphate, which are among the most effective pesticides when used correctly. However, chickens overdosed with malathion may experience muscle tremors and even seizures, and it goes without saying that people have become more concerned about the potentially hazardous effects of pesticides on the food chain.

Pyrethrins are also effective pesticides and are considered a more organic form of miticide since they are derivatives of the chrysanthemum. Permethrin, a pyrethrin derivative, can be used to treat both the birds and the house at concentrations of 0.05 percent. This will prevent mite infestation for up to eight weeks. The most effective treatment, however, is routine cleaning and monitoring of both all incoming birds and the facility itself.

12/27/2007 4:20:47 PM

i have 6 hens all between 2 and 4 years old. they have a 6'x4' henhouse with 2 nesting boxes. they free range an acre everyday for 12 hours. we did have more hens, but about every 4-6 months one starts getting diarrhea, becomes unthrifty and within a week or two dies. i change about 80% of the shavings every week. quarterly i clean the entire contents out, bleach everything. then when it's dry i dust every crack and crevice with either diatomaceous earth or sevin dust. this time our black sex link is sick. i decided to try 4 days of sulmet in their water. she seemed to improve, then go dowhill again. i really need help!

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