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The impact and control of red mite: protecting the health of financial return of poultry farms Logo Feedia

In the poultry sector, the red mite (Dermanyssus gallinae) represents a major challenge in terms of animal health and economic performance. This mite, which feeds on blood at night, is not only a source of stress and disease for hens, but also a significant cause of economic losses for farmers. This article explores methods of controlling this invasive parasite, highlighting the importance of an integrated approach to maintaining the health and productivity of laying hen farms.

The Red Mite : An Adaptable and Resilient Parasite

The red mite (Dermanyssus gallinae) is a mite that lives in hen houses and in the direct environment of hens and/or chickens. Its reproduction cycle is extremely quick and can be responsible for significant economic losses (0.70p/hen = estimated loss of productivity) as well as a significant deterioration in the hens' well-being. More than 80% of laying hen farms are affected by this parasite in Europe.

Red mite are not just red! They are slightly transparent when they are nymphs, gray later on when they have not eaten... and red if they are gorged with blood, or even black when the blood is digested.
They reproduce rapidly during the summer season (ideal environment for red mite is 20 to 30°C and humidity 60 to 70%. Approximately a hundred eggs/each week are laid and it takes 7 days to go from an egg to an adult.
They do not stay on the host for more than 30 to 60 minutes to feed.

Life cycle of the red mite

Survival capacity : 

This way of life enables it to resist the main current methods of control: 

  • Short and abundant life cycle (ability to develop resistance to different products)
  • Ability not to eat for more than 9 months (dormancy)
  • Ability to hide in the smallest cracks and crevices (away from products and hens)
  • Lives in clusters to protect the centre of the colony from products
  • Ability to survive underwater (more than 35 hours)

The harmful effects of red mite on livestock and humans

This parasite causes 

On the hen : 

  • Blood loss (Anaemia) through feeding on host.
  • Irritation due to their mobility and biting.
  • Stress (due in particular to sleep disorders), with meals taken mainly at night.
  • Disease (as vectors of bacteria and/or viruses).
  • This stress caused by these deficiencies can lead to behavioral issues and increased mortality in some cases.

On eggs : 

  • Blood spots 
  • A drop in egg-laying
  • This will result in direct economic losses

In humans: 

  • It can cause skin irritation and allergic itching.
Poultry red mite : egg stain

How to combat red mite

1- Spot and monitor them

  • Perches and perch supports and inside (if hollow perches). 
  • Nests 
  • Along the feed chain and under the edge of the feed rail
  • In joints, cracks, hollows, between system structural supports
  • Under dry dropping crusts on equipment
  • On equipment inaccessible to the hens and close to where the birds roost at night
  • Place traps in critical areas to take early action.
Red mite in layer farms

2- Create an unfavorable environment 

  • Avoid using wooden equipment, as cracks in the wood provide ideal hiding places 
  • Plastic plugs can be inserted at the end of hollow perches
  • Materials that provide hiding places (removable perches, etc.)
  • Use silica (e.g. diatomaceous earth) or charcoal where lice are present (drying action)
  • Use of repellents (to control feeding and therefore lice reproduction).

3- Building hygiene

  • Follow the C/D protocol for buildings (dusting with immediate destruction, digging up and disinfection) to eliminate the vast majority of lice during the turn around period.
  • Dusting during the cycle between manure collection and laying house.
  • Change of clothing to limit the spread of lice. Limiting visitors.
  • Removal of crusted manure during lay, dust accumulations, egg debris on belts, regular removal of manure in systems with manure belts.

Serhen's additive solution to help you combat red mite

Using a feed additive can be an effective method to control red mite infestation levels. Thanks to its blood repellent action, Serhen solution helps to manage the red mite population (Dermanyssus gallinae). As the mites are not able to feed on the hen the population does not increase because the adults cannot reproduce which effectively interrupts the breeding cycle.
The complete programme combines the SERHEN additive solution and a protocol to help manage the red mite population, with the aim of :

  • reducing the red mite population
  • reduce animal stress by reducing red mite pressure,
  • modulate inflammatory reactions,
  • maintain the performance of laying hens.

Serhen is used in the feed at a frequency determined by the pressure of the red mite population.
Faced with the constant threat of red mite , it is essential for poultry farmers to implement comprehensive and innovative management strategies. Traditional control methods, combined with new technologies such as the Serhen additive solution, offer a promising approach to reducing the impact of this parasite. By adopting an integrated management strategy, farmers can not only improve the welfare of their animals, but also optimise their economic return. The fight against red mite is an ongoing commitment, and increased vigilance and adaptation of new methods will be crucial to future success in the poultry industry.

Our additive solution to combat red lice

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