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Disheveled-Thin-Egg probs...Mites?

What physical characteristics have you observed with your hens before you realized they were dealing with red roost mites? Does the following description fit? I have a 2 year old Amber White whose health has declined over months. Feather loss mostly on the abdomen, weight loss, and her eggs went from normal, to thin-shelled, to one soft-shelled, to just a soft shell under the roost with no visible yolk. 


  • solarbatssolarbats Senior Member
    The best way to tell if you have red mite is to physically look for them in the hut.  Usually chickens will become very pale/anemic, especially noticeable in their comb & wattles. Here is a helpful link:

    However - from the symptoms you describe your hen probably needs worming.  This should be done as a minimum twice a year, for example in Spring and Autumn.  The best product for this is 'Flubenvet', which is a powder that you mix into their feed, and fed for 7 consecutive days.

    Come back to us if you need more help.

  • Thank you. I have wormed though. A few weeks ago for tapeworm with paziquantel
  • Oops, I wasn't done. Tapes cleared with that treatment. Fecal test clear aside from one oocyst coccidia.I looked more closely at another hen and she has feather loss too. Will check a few more.
  • undautriundautri Senior Member
    red mites can affect the quality of eggs produced but i doubt to the extent you say
    the best way to see if you have red mites is to wipe the underneath of the roost with a tissue in the morning - any red shows blood there from mites. they also can look like a sooty deposit in the corner or edges of the roost in bad infestations.
     there area range of diseases and defficencies that affect egg quality so look for other symptoms
     in the mean time try adding a  vitamin supplement or food rich in vitamin d to maintain  calcium and a high protein diet for a few days to see if she improves . a suggestion could be scrambled eggs with no milk but a teaspoon of margarine and eggshell crumbled into it
    sometimes defficiencies show up despite a good diet - it is sometimes inherited from the parents and may not show up until times of stress such as illness or parasites /worms . coming back into lay can also put a strain on them initially.
    keep us up dated
  • solarbatssolarbats Senior Member
    It sounds like you've been very thorough with the worm checking - well done you!  I wish praziquantrel would work on my flock - the tapeworms just don't seem to shift no matter what strength I use.  What type of praziquantrel did you use?

    I assume that you've checked for mites on the hens?  Usually they start right by the vent ans spread from there.  Treatment would be a dusting with mite powder or Diatomaceaous earth.

  • Ok, Undautri, I will do that roost wipe test tonight though I have really doused it well with Elector PSP (shot it into the cracks..and there are a lot of those). Last eve I also used poultry dust on the roosts. Hopefully there are no mites to see after all that! I started reading on feather mites and depluming mites..maybe those are an option for what's going on. I checked several of the other hens yesterday and several of them seem to have some feather loss on bellies. None look as terrible as Jackie. I did add a vitamin / electrolyte to the water for a few days. I'll shoot for doing it for another week. Jackie's poop is also showing bits of undigested grass. And I'll give her some cooked egg to eat. Good idea. I don't think a layer ration is doing her any good right now, so I'll look at healthy proteins an may switch the whole flock to starter feed for week or two.Thanks again for your comments. I'll keep you posted.
  • Hi solarbats. Thanks. Praziquantel did wonders for the flock. Nearly all were showing wiggly tape segments in their poop and after following the dosing protocol, I haven't seen one for weeks. I assume the will return at some point, but it's good to knock them down at least for a while. The first time I ever used it, I didn't get the meds in the hens mouths very accurately so I don't think they got full doses. The second time was easier. Kind of. I use two kinds: Zimectrin Gold for the first pea-sized dose and Equimax for the second dose, 12 days later. The Equimax has double the Praziquantel, so smaller than pea-sized for that one. Yes, I checked for mites in all the right places...there's just nothing crawling around. I kind of wish I'd see something so at least I'd know! I started using Elector PSP for mites. It's a $$$ spray you mix with water AND it doesn't have to be repeated in several days like the powder. It has to get onto the skin, so you have to spread open the feathers around the mite-loving spots. The poultry dust works too and I just spread some on the roosts as a hail-mary! The diatomaceous earth is not something I use...most of what I've read from studies do not recommend it. That said, a lot of people use it anyway, but I'm not convinced. Let me know how you treated your hens for the tapes. What was your process? 
  • solarbatssolarbats Senior Member
    Thanks for your reply!  I've tried different strengths of praziquantel too - mainly horse wormers and pea-sized amounts.  I used to hollow out a grape and put it in there before popping it in their throats - maybe that could work for you too!

    The only thing that has some effect is a 'spot-on' wormer we can get for cats, called 'Droncit' (0.5ml of 20mg praziquantel).  This does reduce the tapeworms, but never seems to clear them out completely!

    I'm guessing you are in the states so your products are named differently?
  • I have heard of Droncit and yes, I think you can get it under that name here too for dogs and cats. Are you dosing twice for tapes? Once, then 12 days later dose again? The Equimax wormer is labeld at 14.03% of Praziquantel..not sure what the means in mg, but I think it's about 0.15mL. I wonder if your dosing it too small. I'm not sure how to compare the 14.03% that's in Equimax with the 20mg that you use in your droncit. It'd be worth checking into that. I gave a pea-size amount and did have two of my older hens acting like they did not feel great the first several hours after. Because "pea-sized amount" is variable, it's possible I got a little heavy handed with the pea size. Either way, all are not showing signs of tapes and haven't been for at least a month. Just patiently waiting for the next round to show up. Ha! 
  • It's sounding like Jackie has a couple of things happening. Despite her age (2 years) she has not had her adult molt, hence the disheveled, broken, sad-looking feathers. Secondly, there is most likely a reproductive issue that has made her eggs unformed when she lays. What a bummer. I was advised by another keeper to try a 1/2 tablet of Caltrate daily for a week just to see if it will help anything. I also came across this article about poultry that are bred to lay prolifically, and how their health/longevity is secondary to egg production: https://agreenerworld.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/TAFS-13-The-Prolific-Hybrid-Hen-v3.pdf  

  • solarbatssolarbats Senior Member
    Thanks for that article, and the info about meds.

    It is true that hybrid hens get more egg issues.  Post mortems on my ex battery/ex commercial hens have shown a 68% cancer rate too.  Others have issues such as internal laying or infected oviducts, which don't always show up straight away.  

    Tell us about the rest of your flock...
  • Hey there solarbats. Sorry for the delay. I may have an answer...maybe. The flock was free-ranging most of their days until I found them far away, through the forest and at the neighbors, tearing up her spring gardens! Their free range time has been revoked and they are let out an hour or two in the eves if timing allows. In the past week or so I've noticed that Jackie's eggs have slowly transitioned back to shelled (even relatively hard). I'm curious to see if her feathers will also improve now that she is back on layer feed. I think perhaps she just wasn't returning to the coop to eat the layer food much. Maybe that was the problem! I hope this pattern continues with her. Now I'm dealing with weasels! Oh my it never ends...  
  • solarbatssolarbats Senior Member
    >:) They are naughty hens!  The grass is always greener on the other side as they say!

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