The short answer to the dreadfully terrifying question Do Chickens Get Fleas? Yes, chickens can get fleas. Like any animal you introduce into your life, your feathery backyard friends bring with them a variety of pests that will follow them wherever they go.
That is not to say that your chickens have fleas or will definitely get them someday. But parasites like fleas, lice, and mites rely on animals like chickens to survive. There is a good possibility you will deal with this issue at some point.
If you are looking for answers about how to prevent fleas or what to do if your chickens already have them, you’ve come to the right place. Read on to find the answers you need for your chicken and flea related woes.
Types of Fleas
The first thing it is important for you to know is exactly what you are dealing with. In the U.S. there are three main types of fleas that can effect your chickens.
- The European Chicken Flea: The most common chicken flea in the U.S.
- The Western Chicken Flea: mostly found in the Pacific Northwest
- Sticktight Flea: mostly found in warmer climates
Dangers of Fleas to Your Chickens
Although the three different types of fleas above have different living and feeding patterns, the results of all three are generally the same. Initially, fleas can make your flock irritable. While that is bad enough in and of itself it is far from the worst harm caused by fleas.
Because they are parasites, fleas feed on their host, in this case chickens. That means that your chickens are not getting the nutrition they need and can eventually become malnourished.
Anemia is also a common symptom of chickens that have fleas, as is a decrease in egg production. Most likely, you are raising chickens, not because they are cute and cuddly, but because they lay eggs. Losing eggs because of flees is a real possibility and why it is so important to keep an eye on your chickens.
Additionally, the Sticktight flea can leave sores around your chickens’ eyes and in extreme cases cause blindness.
And, while it is uncommon, left untreated, fleas can be deadly for young chicks.
Finally, if an infestation gets out of hand, fleas can spread to other animals and even to people.
How to Tell if Your Chickens Have Fleas
If you are beginning to wonder if your chickens have fleas, there are several things you can do to find out for sure.
First you can note any of the above symptoms and see if your chickens have any of them. Do they have sores around their eyes? Do they seem a bit off? Have you noticed a decrease in egg production?
After answering these initial questions, you might need to examine your chickens for fleas. To do this you need to separate their feathers and take a close look at their skin. Pay careful attention to the skin and feathers around the breast, vent, and tail of the chicken.
If you see evidence of fleas, note that those are the adults. The mature fleas only represent a small percentage of the fleas you are dealing with. There will be many more fleas on the ground and in the chickens feces.
If you (or more precisely, your chickens) have fleas it will be time to switch gears and get into treatment mode
How to Treat Chickens and Coops that Have Fleas
As you will see from how involved treating your chickens and their coop for fleas is, the best thing to do is check them regularly. That way you can either prevent fleas or catch them before the infestation gets too far along.
If you do need to treat your chicks for fleas, you will need to do a deep clean of the entire coop. Follow the steps below. Before you even begin, make sure you wear gloves throughout the entire cleaning process.
- Move the chickens out of the coop.
- Remove everything from the coop and throw it away (or burn it).
- Scrub the entire coop with water and vinegar or Microbe-Lift chicken coop cleaner.
- Allow the coop to dry entirely
- Dust the coop using Carbaryl (follow directions on the container for proper use)
- While the coop is drying and settling, use BASF Insecticide Spray to treat the flock (follow the directions on the can to make sure you use it properly)
After you have treated the flock wash your clothes and take a shower immediately. Finally, to make sure you have completely gotten rid of the fleas, you may want to repeat the entire process in two weeks.
How to Keep Fleas Away from Your Chickens
If you don’t want to devote an entire day to treating your chickens and their coop for parasites, you should probably invest in at least a few of these prevention techniques.
- Keep a clean coop. It is the golden rule of raising chickens and it applies to prevent fleas too. If you regularly clean out the coop and change the bedding, you will greatly decrease the chances of a flea infestation. While you are cleaning, you can also be on the lookout for the little buggers.
- Spray your chickens with apple cider vinegar. This bittersweet substance can protect your chickens from fleas and other insects.
- Sprinkle some food grade diatomaceous earth on the coop floor.
5 Products That Can Help Keep Fleas Away from Your Chickens
As you may have noticed it is a big job to prevent parasites or to treat your chickens for them. You will need some help along the way, and there are several key products that will make a huge difference.
Microbe Lift Chicken Coop Cleaner. Microbe Lift is an ultra-effective spray that cleans your chicken coop and deodorizes it too. It is completely safe to use for you and your chickens and it is very easy to apply.
Carbaryl. Carbaryl is an insecticide that you can spray onto your coop to prevent insects and parasite from entering that sacred dwelling.
BASF Insecticide Spray. This insecticide can be used to treat your chickens directly.
Apple Cider Vinegar. Apple cider vinegar is a powerful, natural cleaner and can be helpful in preventing fleas from infesting your chicken coops.
Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth. Another way to prevent insects from encroaching on your chickens’ turf.
Do Chickens Eat Fleas? Can They Take Care of the Problem Themselves?
At this point you might be asking yourself, “is all of this really necessary?” True, it might seem over the top, but fleas mean business and are literally out for blood. Chickens cannot protect themselves from fleas on their own. If they do become infested, they and their coop will need to be cleaned.
While chickens love to eat things like ticks and other creepies and crawlies that pester us, they are helpless when it comes to fleas. Hopefully, you will take prevention and treatment seriously and keep your chickens healthy, clean, and safe from fleas.
Other Pests that Can Harm Chickens
And while fleas are parasite that can commonly infest your coop, lice and mites are an even more common problem for chickens.
While lice differ from fleas in that they don’t live off the blood of chickens, they can still be a nuisance. They will itch and bother your birds and keep them from flourishing.
The good news is that if your chickens have lice, you can follow the basic steps above to get rid of them too.
Mites can be a bit trickier to deal with and are more of a problem than lice. Like fleas, they live on your chickens’ blood and can cause real harm. As its name suggests, the scaly leg mite, makes its home on a chicken’s legs. This can cause real damage to your chicken’s legs and might result in limping.
If you suspect a mite infestation, try the steps above to get rid of the little blood suckers.
Keeping and raising chickens is a rewarding and increasingly popular hobby. It is also a great way to get fresh eggs for the right price. While there are challenges to raising chickens, like fleas (and lice and mites) don’t let it scare you.
With a little extra effort, you can work to keep your chickens and their coop clean and make sure fleas stay far away. If your chickens do get fleas, you now know how to eradicate the nasty pests from your coop, and from your birds.
Anything to add? Share your experience with chickens and fleas in the comments section below.
Below is a Pinterest friendly photo…. so you can pin it to your Doodle Board!!