Tackling the poultry industry’s €360 million red mite problem

MSD Animal Health has launched an innovative new tool for monitoring and controlling poultry red mite in Ireland in conjuction with Dutch veterinary company AviVet®.

The ‘AviVet Trap’ is a new, easy-to-use monitoring tool which represents a major breakthrough in the monitoring and measurement of red mite in poultry.

It enables veterinary practitioners to capture red mites in poultry houses and accurately analyse the extent of the problem with an accompanying software package – the AviVet Red Mite Monitor programme.

Cost of infestations

Red mites are the primary mites threatening poultry houses throughout Europe. The approximate annual cost of red mite infestations in Europe totals €360 million, with more than 300 million hens in all production types suffering from infestations.

Even relatively small mite populations can have a significant impact on bird welfare and productivity.

The average cost of a red mite infestation is estimated at €0.57 per hen per year; more severe infestations can cost up to €2.50 per hen.

In addition to the financial implications, the presence of red mites severely impacts on animal health and well-being. It can also be extremely frustrating and demotivating for the poultry farmer.

Symptoms of red mite

Symptoms of red mite in poultry include: anaemia; restlessness; increased mortality; and decreased growth.

Hens are also more likely to consume more feed as they require more energy to keep themselves warm due to feather loss.

Red mites can be easily introduced to a poultry house by farm visitors, employees, chicken crates or vermin. They can also cause allergy and dermatitis in poultry farm workers.

Berrian Lammers of Avivet with Maureen Prendergast and Thomas Gallagher from MSD Animal Health discussing the innovative new poultry red mite traps from AviVet on farm

Controlling red mite

Controlling red mite is currently challenging. An infestation should be monitored sufficiently before treatment methods are applied.

It is also important to understand the life cycle of red mites before starting treatment. Fast treatment is vital in red mite infestations, as new generations of mites are introduced every 6-10 days.

There are several methods for monitoring red mite infestations – these include mite monitoring scoring, mite traps and the examination of feathers, dust and dried droppings.

The AviVet trap offers a much more effective solution when compared with these methods, providing fast, easy red mite diagnosis and quantitative results.

Results of the monitoring system are impressive. An AviVet validation study demonstrated that around 93.4% of mites in a poultry house were trapped successfully in the AviVet trap.

A further study carried out by MSD Animal Health produced results of around 96% – demonstrating accurate analysis of the infestation.

Berrian Lammers of Avivet with Maureen Prendergast and Thomas Gallagher from MSD Animal Health displaying a up-close picture of the components of the innovative new poultry red mite traps from AviVet

Maureen Prendergast, veterinary adviser with MSD Animal Health, commented on the new AviVet system. She said: “The biggest strength of the AviVet system is its simplicity. It is also robust, user-friendly, quantitative and sensitive.

Red mites are a huge issue for poultry farms and this tool will offer a practical and effective solution to monitoring and measuring the extent of the problem before commencing the most appropriate treatment programme.

“We are excited about bringing this important new monitoring tool to Ireland and confident it will improve the industry’s ability to tackle the issue of red mites much more effectively than has been possible to date,” she concluded.

More information

Further information on red mite is available from your poultry veterinary practitioner or MSD Animal Health, Red Oak North, South County Business Park, Leopardstown, Dublin 18, Ireland.

MSD Animal Health can be contacted at: 01-2970220 or email: [email protected]. Click here for more information