Lice – Backyard Chickens’ Health and Care

Illnesses in chickens

What is a Lice Infestation in Chickens?

Lice infestation is a common problem among backyard chickens. These tiny insects can cause significant discomfort to the birds and reduce their productivity. In this article, we will discuss the symptoms, causes, and treatment of lice infestation in chickens.

Lice Symptoms

The presence of lice can cause itching, irritation, and restlessness in chickens. Chooks infected with lice may scratch themselves excessively, leading to bald spots on their skin. They may also exhibit poor feather quality, decreased egg production, and weight loss. In severe cases, lice infestation can lead to anemia and even death.

Lice Causes

Lice are spread through direct contact with infested birds, equipment, or other animals. They are particularly attracted to dirty and damp environments, which provide a suitable habitat for their reproduction. Overcrowding and poor hygiene in chicken coops can also contribute to lice infestations.

Lice Diagnosis

To diagnose lice infestation, examine the chooks’ feathers and skin for small, grayish-white insects. Lice eggs, also known as nits, can be found attached to the base of the feathers. The presence of these insects and their eggs is a clear sign of lice infestation.

Lice Treatment

There are several treatment options for lice infestation in chickens. One effective method is to use a permethrin-based dust, which can be applied directly to the birds and their surroundings. Another option is to use a pyrethrin-based spray, which can be used to treat the chickens and their environment. It is also essential to maintain good hygiene in the coop, including regularly cleaning and disinfecting the bedding and nesting boxes.

Lice Prevention

To prevent lice infestations, it is crucial to keep the chicken coop clean and dry. Regular cleaning and disinfecting of the coop, bedding, and nesting boxes can help prevent the spread of lice. It is also essential to keep the coop well-ventilated and to avoid overcrowding.


Lice infestation is a common problem among backyard chickens, but it can be effectively treated and prevented through good hygiene practices. By keeping the coop clean and well-maintained, and regularly checking the birds for signs of infestation, chicken owners can help their birds stay healthy and productive.

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