October 22, 2011


Ministry of Livestock Development, P.O Box 25 Ololulung'a

Control options available

Control of ectoparasites in indigenous chicken is perceived as a major impediment to rural farmers since their scavenging habits and constant contact with contaminated environment make them an easy prey to parasitic infestations. Isolating poultry flocks from other animals to reduce the opportunity for disease transmission; isolating young from older birds if more than one age group is present on the farm and keeping wild birds, rodents, insects and pets away from poultry is almost impossible due to the nature of their production system (free range system).

When the pests are discovered and identified, effective control will entail collective alternatives. This control can be approach as on-host and/ or off-host treatment. A number of techniques have been used in control of these ectoparasites. These include: management changes such as modification of poultry housing by eliminating, minimizing or sealing cracks and crevices required by these pests for shelter in current or planned housing. Entry of wild birds and rodents can be prevented with screen and other barriers.

Cultural methods like paraffin use in control of fleas (Echidnophaga gallinacea) and petroleum jelly applied on scaly legs (Cnemidocoptes mutans); and traditional herbs like neem (Mwarubaini) leaves and bark have been employed in control of ectoparasites in indigenous family chicken. In the treatment of scaly mites, neem (Mwarubaini) mixed with residue from soaked and filtered ash and a little water is made into paste and smeared on the scaly legs. The commonly used insecticides include permethrins, cabaryl compounds, coumaphos, tetrachlorvinphos and/ or tetrachlorvinphos and dichlorvos combination, applied as a spray (or bird dipping) and dust treatments.

Control mites by treating their hiding places. Treat roosts, walls, litter, and equipment by painting, spraying, or dusting. Treat all cracks, crevices, and rough spots. As a general practice, even in the absence of a known infestation of insects or mites, the poultry house should be treated at least twice a year. The treatment should include a thorough cleaning of the house and an insecticide application. Northern fowl mites (Ornithonyssus sylviarum) specifically infest the vent area, although males tend to have a more scattered infestation. Caged layers should be sprayed or dusted from underneath the cage in order to penetrate the vent feathers. For an effective treatment, spray two times with half doses, thirty minutes apart, to ensure that the vent region has been thoroughly saturated with the appropriate pesticide. Floor birds with northern fowl mite infestations can be bunched into a corner and treated with the same spray techniques, again, aimed at the vent area. For very small flocks, simply dipping each bird in a tank of the full dose spray mixture can be very effective. Treatment of Dermanyssus gallinae involves cleaning and disinfecting the poultry house. Mites can be located along cracks and crevices of the roost areas and poultry house, and eliminated by spraying pesticides in these infested areas two or three times for several weeks. Spray roosts and other equipment in the house. Remove nesting material and spray nest boxes inside and out. Allow time for drying before adding new nesting material.

Control of poultry lice requires treating the birds since lice remain on the bird throughout its life. Treat by dipping, dusting, or spraying the birds, and be careful to avoid contaminating eggs, feed and water. Treatment is easiest at night when birds are quiet. For best results, split treatments with half of the recommended amount of insecticide applied initially, and the second half applied soon after the first, since the wet feathers retain more active ingredient. Applying liquid sprays to dry feathers often results in loss of some of the insecticide due to runoff.

Integrated poultry pest management

Poultry integrated pest management (IPM) is based on applied ecology – understanding the pest biology and behavior in the habitat. Pest control in poultry facilities requires a judicious meshing of the cultural, biological, and chemical methods described previously. Biosecurity is always a primary element for preventing as much as possible the introduction of disease organism and pests into the operation. Optimal flock, housing, and waste management procedures should be continuously practiced to assist in suppressing pest populations and to encourage natural control factors, including moisture control, fly parasites and fly predators. When monitoring indicates unacceptable pest levels, additional actions are required to improve the implementation of the management practices.

In addition, chemical applications may be necessary. The timing of insecticide applications must be meshed with the poultry management practices. Very often this restricts applications to between flocks in a house when thorough cleaning and spraying is possible as for beetle, chicken mite, and bedbug control. Chemical applications for fly control by residual spraying, insecticide–bait mixtures and occasional misting are sometimes necessary to bring the adult fly population down to an acceptable level. However, those applications must be made with minimal contamination of the manure to preserve the natural populations of fly parasites and predators.


  1. Awesome and informative blog! Thanks for your very nice articles. I like this very much and look forward to visiting your blog in the future. A good poultry housing keeps the bird safe and disease free.
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  2. Thanx Monika for finding it informative to read my article. Lets promote poultry health and hence improve its ultimate productivity. Poultry meat is the present and future's most preferred source of protein for the family!