One of the most common questions chicken owners ask is if chickens eat ticks. Chickens take a lot of care, and it’s nice to take stock of some of their extra benefits.
The good news is that the answer is yes, chickens do eat ticks. There is now plenty of scientific evidence to show that chickens help control tick populations. Also, there are many farmers and chicken owners who swear by chickens as a way to combat ticks. Chickens have even shown to outperform pest control as a way to get rid of ticks. Some chicken farmers use Diatomaceous Earth to control pests.
Many people are catching on, and chickens are raised for their tick-killing abilities. If you have tick issues, you might want to consider a small flock of chickens to take care of them.
The Danger of Ticks
Tick-borne illnesses are no laughing matter. While many tick bites are harmless, and if removed, won’t be too dangerous, others can be deadly. There are several tick-borne diseases prominent in the U.S., and prevention is always the best medicine.
One of the most dangerous and feared of those diseases is Lyme disease. Deer ticks most often spread Lyme disease. They are in the midwest and northeastern parts of the country.
Symptoms of Lyme disease can include fever, headache, rash, and sore joints and muscles. Not every case of Lyme disease will produce all of the symptoms. And in some cases, symptoms will be quite mild. But left untreated, Lyme disease can be quite debilitating. In that case, symptoms can progress to short term memory loss, nerve pain, and arthritis.
If Lyme disease is suspected, it is best to see a medical professional immediately.
Colorado Tick Fever
Another well-known tick-borne illness is Colorado tick fever. As the name suggests, it is most commonly found in Colorado. But it is present in high altitude areas in other states as well.
Colorado tick fever, as well as causing a fever, includes symptoms such as aches and fatigue. While people typically don’t fear Colorado tick fear as much as Lyme disease, it is also a serious disease.
Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
Another similar tick-borne illness is Rocky Mountain spotted fever. This disease, too, is spread by ticks in the Rocky Mountain region of the country.
Rocky Mountain spotted fever is a severe tick-borne illness and left untreated can cause death. Other symptoms include vomiting and rashes in addition to a fever.
Even though Colorado fever and Rocky Mountain spotted fever make it seem that region is most prone to tick-borne illnesses, it isn’t. Most tick-borne diseases occur in the midwest and northeast. Those who live in those two parts of the country should be aware of the benefit of owning chickens as a defense against ticks.
And while raising chickens won’t guarantee safety from all tick-borne illnesses like Colorado tick fever and Lyme disease, they can help. If you suspect a massive tick population in your area, chickens could be a great way to prevent a tick-borne illness.
But Are Ticks Bad for Chickens?
Those considering chickens because they eat ticks and offer protection might be concerned about the chickens. They might wonder if it is harmful to the chickens to eat ticks.
That, however, isn’t the case. Chickens naturally prey on small insects and ticks, and eating ticks in your backyard won’t harm your chickens. One study found chickens grazed among tick-infested cattle for 30-60 minutes ate an average of 81 ticks. The chickens showed no signs of illness.
Using chickens as a natural preventative measure against ticks won’t hurt your chickens.
How Chickens Eliminate Ticks
As I mentioned above, chickens naturally prey on ticks and small insects. They will keep their eyes out for anything small that moves. If they see a tick where they are grazing, they will attack.
If you want to eliminate ticks from an area, allow the chickens to graze on that part of your property.
It won’t take very long to work either. Many chicken owners have explained how chickens start getting rid of ticks almost immediately.
Other Animals that Get Rid of Ticks
Chickens, however, are not the only predatory bird that can solve your tick woes. To begin with, other types of poultry are also good tick hunters.
One such example is Guinea hens. Like chickens, Guinea hens are happy to roam freely and peck ticks, beetles, and other bugs.
The downside to Guinea hens is that they are far louder than chickens and have a tendency to wander. If you are considering getting Guinea hens do your homework first.
Another type of poultry that hunts ticks is the wild turkey. Wild turkeys, like the other poultry on this list, have a reputation for eating ticks. However, since they are wild, you’ll have to work with government officials in your area to introduce turkeys.
Squirrels and other Rodents
It is not only poultry that eats ticks. Rodents such as squirrels, mice, and others also eat ticks. The problem with these furry tick-eaters is that they also carry ticks and the diseases that come with them.
The exception to that rule is opossums. Not only can opossums eat thousands of ticks in their lifetime, they rarely carry them. They are efficient groomers and won’t let ticks free ride on their backs.
The other animals worth mentioning that eat ticks are frogs, toads, and lizards. Of course, it isn’t feasible to invest in frogs and toads as a tick defense system, but it is good to know.
Still, overall, if you are looking for the best natural way to defend against ticks, chickens are your answer. And not only will they eat the ticks in your yard, but they will also reward you with plenty of fresh eggs. You’re not going to get that from an opossum.
Other Pests Chickens Take Care Of
As you might have guessed, ticks aren’t the main part of a chickens diet. Chickens are omnivores meaning they eat a combination of plants and animals. The animals, of course, being small bugs and insects.
Chickens are happy when anything from grasshoppers and worms to spiders and scorpions is on the menu. And for dessert, of course, they do love ticks.
When it comes to pests, chickens will also gladly indulge in ants and termites, among others.
In addition to being a natural defense against ticks, chickens can help solve numerous pest problems you might have.
Chickens alone might not be a total defense against ticks, though. While they can be an essential part of anyone’s tick prevention plan, other steps need to be taken. Knowing what type of tick is most common in your area is an excellent first step.
It is also wise to have a good tick tweezer on hand in case you need one. Finally, it is helpful to keep the grass short and your lawn clean from too many leaves. And don’t let chickens make you think you are invincible against ticks. Even with a feathery flock for protection, you could still get a tick-borne illness.
Still, the answer is yes. Chickens do eat ticks. And they are a valuable part of keeping ticks from taking over your yard.
Below is a Pinterest friendly photo…. so you can pin it to your Chicken Board!!