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Depluming Itch

Depluming itch is an inflammatory reaction caused by the depluming mite (Knemidocoptes gallinae). K. gallinae is a burrowing mite, similar to the scaly leg mite, except instead of burrowing underneath the scales in the chicken's legs and feet, the depluming mite burrows into the skin alongside the feather shafts of chickens, pigeons, and pheasants. The mites are often found along the back and wings of the bird, and rarely the head and neck.

The constant burrowing causes the bird intense irritation and pain. The bird's feathers often break off readily, and may be pulled out by the bird themselves.

Depluming mites are more prevalent during the spring and summer months.

Clinical Signs

Feather loss
Broken/damaged feathers
Frequent scratching/irritation
Restlessness
Molting out of season
Increased preening

Diagnosis

  • History
  • Clinical signs
  • Physical exam

Treatment

NameSummary
PyrethrumApplied as a powder or a spray directly on the chicken. When treating the bird, apply directly on the chicken's feathers, concentrating on the vent area. Note that it only kills the adult insects, not the larvae and eggs. Therefore, treatment will need to be repeated in 2 weeks.G Damerow
PermethrinApplied as a powder (0.24% permethrin) or spray (3 ounces of 10% permethrin is mixed in a 5 gallon bucket of water), directly on the chickens.G Damerow
Carbaryl syntheticApplied as a powder (5% carbaryl) or spray (4 ounces of 80% carbaryl mixed in a 5 gallon bucket of water) directly on the chickens.G Damerow
SulfurApplied as a dust directly on the chickens or added to their dust bathing area.G Damerow
Diatomaceous Earth (DE) (food grade)Apply by dusting onto the chicken's feathers or added to their dust bathing area.G Damerow

Support

Prevention

Provide chickens with a dustbathing area which contains diatomaceous earth.

Scientific References

Risk Factors

  • Not providing chickens with an area to dustbathe.
  • High populations of wild birds nearby.

Seasonality

WinterSpringSummerAutumn

Also Consider