Yeah, it’s gross—but I’m going to share how I got rid of lice in our chickens naturally. Oh, and our ducklings, because they got it first. Normally, I consider myself to be a pretty good chicken mama; my chickens are happy, run around and forage all day, have a safe place to sleep, etc.
This spring a few of my hens decided they wanted babies (aka, they were broody), so I let one sit on fifteen eggs. Mostly because I was afraid to get them out from under her and that’s how many she ended up with.
I brought the mama into the garage once the chicks started hatching because another hen was trying to sit in her box—and it was so annoying, but also dangerous because they ended up crushing and killing the first chick that hatched ☹ break my heart. So broody mama ended up in the garage with the rest of the eggs. We ended up with 8 sweet baby chicks!
I was gifted some ducklings by some friends, and they were living in the garage as well at the time. I’m new to ducks, so I don’t know much about them, but they are so messy. And their bedding gets terribly wet. I knew I needed to change it, but I didn’t know how badly it needed to be changed. Long story short, and hold your breath because this is gross, they had bugs and flies and maggots and lice growing under the bedding. And the lice of course, got my birds.
I WANTED TO DIE. I felt like the worst animal mama in the history of ever.
Oh hey, you want to hear something gross? Cool. Sunday night a nephew came in from the garage where I’ve been keeping the broody hatching mama/ducks and was like ‘I think your ducks have fleas cuz I have these tiny black things on me.’ And I was like ‘ummmmm gross??’ But I was just in there that morning and didn’t notice anything so I forgot about it until yesterday. Then yesterday I went in to feed everyone and I look down on my arms and I’ve got tiny black bugs CRAWLING ALL OVER ME. guys. I almost died right there. So I cry a little inside, feed everyone, then google a few things because this seems like a good time with tiny bugs on me. Basically, i think we have a mite or lice problem. WHICH IS HORRIFYING. So I immediately went into the house–and made myself a witch potion of apple cider vinegar, water, arborvitae, geranium, and melaleuca essential oils and sprayed it all over myself then went back out and misted all the birds. Then I went and showered obvs and made a game plan, kind of. Yesterday evening I dusted all the birds with bentonite clay and baking soda (it’s what I had/helps to dry out and kill the demons), then we spent the rest of the evening cleaning out the bedding and BURNING THAT SH*. Dreamt last night that I had bugs crawling all over me. Went out today and it’s possible that the problem is solved 🤞🏼🤞🏼🤞🏼 but now I’ve got to check all of the other chickens outside tonight before we move them into the new coop. Pray for me 😂 ⠀
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How to get rid of lice in chickens naturally (worked for my ducks too)
Since the ducklings and broody mama were in the same area, the lice were passed to her and the babies as well. Thankfully we caught it soon, but I was still horrified.
Here is what I did:
- Freak out. Obviously.
- Once I found the lice I went and grabbed one of my 16 0z. glass spray bottles, filled it halfway with apple cider vinegar and half with water, then added 5 drops arborvitae, 3 drops melaleuca, and 3 drops geranium essential oils then went and misted the crap out of all the birds.
- Showered, because I had little lice running all over my body and it was horrifying.
- I had some bentonite clay on hand so I used that and some baking soda to dust all of the birds (chicks too), and then removed them from their brooders.
- Then we cleaned out and burned the bedding. The mama and chicks were put in a different area of the garage, while I decided eff bedding for the ducks because it just gets wet. So they are just kind of running around at night in the garage and I go in and sprinkle baking soda on everything, then scrape it out later. It’s gross, and I need to move them into their house this week and clean out the garage.
- The next day we got some diatomaceous earth from the farm store and added it to the new bedding for the broody mama and her babies, and dusted everyone with it. She hadn’t been able to go out and dust bathe since she was hatching babies. This gave her an area to do that, and added protection against the lice.
- We also check the other birds in the big coop, just in case they were the reason the lice were a thing, but they were fine, thank goodness.
- For the next two or three days I would go and mist the birds three times a day.
After the first day, I noticed a significant improvement—I had way fewer bugs crawling on me after going in. It seemed to get better each day, and after about 4 days I didn’t notice any creepy crawlies on me at all. This weekend I finally got brave enough to pick up one of the ducks again and I think we are done with the lice!
Why essential oils
I used arborvitae, melaleuca, and geranium essential oils because I knew that they are good for repelling lice on humans, so it made sense to me to use them on my chickens. I am not a fan of using chemical on my kids or my animals and always turn to essential oils first, so that’s what I did naturally. I diluted the oil more than I would for a regular human simply because the birds are small—they don’t need as much oil to have an effect. DoTerra is the only oil brand I recommend and you can read more about why here.
The apple cider vinegar is thought to help kill the small lice (nymphs) that can’t lay eggs yet and it can also help get rid of the eggs. Diamotaceous earth basically dries out and kills the lice.
DIY lice spray recipe
- a 16 oz glass spray bottle
- apple cider vinegar
- 5 drops arborvitae essential oil
- 3 drops melaleuca essential oil
- 3 drops geranium essential oil (this is where I buy my essential oils//the only brand I recommend on pets or humans)
Fill half your bottle with apple cider vinegar, then add your essential oils. Fill the remainder of the bottle up with water. Label and shake before use. This can also be used as prevention.
Have you had to deal with lice on your homestead? Leave a comment and let me know what you did to get rid of it!
- The Essential Life