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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Bird
Satisfied Customers: 28533
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 45 years of experience
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I have a rooster lethargic and pulling off feathers on s

Customer Question

Hi. I have a rooster lethargic and pulling off feathers on his wing
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Bird
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 1 year ago.

Ectoparasites (lice, mites) are my initial consideration in a chicken who is self-mutilating (in an attempt to alleviate the itch associated with those parasites) and is lethargic (anemic from blood loss due to insect feeding). Are any of your other birds showing evidence of ectoparasites - small scabs and clots, moth-eaten appearance to feathers, nits (louse eggs) at the base of feathers?

External parasites should be identified prior to treatment but in most cases a carbaryl-containing dust such as Sevin as well as environmental control should suffice. A recent study showed that mite populations could be controlled with dust boxes containing either diatomaceous earth, kaolin clay, or sulfur. All hens using dust boxes with any material showed a reduction in ectoparasites (mites, lice, fleas) by 80-100% after one week when compared to control groups. Ectoparasite populations recovered when dust boxes containing diatomaceous earth or kaolin clay were removed; however, sulfur provided a residual effect up to nine months post removal. Provision of dust boxes may be a simple and effective method of ectoparasite control for backyard flocks.