Chick constantly itching

by Christine
(Ferndale, WA)

Question

Chick constantly itching: I just got a group of 15 chicks 5 are Buff Orpingtons, 5 are Marans, and 5 are Jersey Giants.

I noticed that one of the Jersey Giants keeps itching its face and neck with both feet at once. It is starting to make bald spots on its neck.

I checked over the rest and 2 others of the Jersey Giants also have bald spots but I haven't seen them itching. They have been eating and drinking just fine and they have plenty of space and the right amount of heat.

So I took out the three chicks and put them in a separate brooding area. But I'm not sure what is wrong with them. So, any ideas?

Answer
Sounds like a mite problem. Often mites are too small to be seen with the naked eye. They can dig into the skin and cause much discomfort. I’ve never had to address mites in such small chickens.

In order to treat you will have to find a product that’s safe for such little ones. Possibly on-line you can find a manufacture poultry mite treatments and call them to find out specifically how to treat chicks.

I wouldn’t want to guess here which would be safest for them. Some mites are so well buried in the skin and feather follicles that they only respond to an oral medication that can reach the blood supply and reach the mites where they live.

Possibly the hatchery allowed chicks to be contaminated with mites, or where ever you purchased them, or there may have been mites present in the litter you are using.

Mites can hide in boxes and wooden objects and wait for their host. Young chicks need all their resources to grow and have little reserves to fight an infestation.

Possibly this chick got the worst of the mites, which might be why the others don’t seem effected. Any that have been housed together in the brooder will be at risk. It would be important to thoroughly clean the brooders.

I’ve seen vitamin/electrolytes made especially for chicks after shipping. I would suggest such a product to help them be as healthy as possible and fight any side effects.

Mites drink blood and chicks have very little to spare. Acting quickly should help save all.

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