Poultry keepers should be vigilant for signs of poultry red mite infestation, as the summer months may bring a rapid increase in their numbers, warns Maureen Prendergast – technical manager at MSD Animal Health.
“Poultry red mite reproduce quickly with a new generation introduced every seven-to-10 days, meaning – at this time of the year – a small infestation can quickly become a major problem,” Maureen explained.
“I would recommend farmers and poultry workers familiarise themselves with the lifecycle of the mite to better understand how they can spot the problem early,” she added.
Prompt treatment at the first signs of infestation can help to minimise the effect on production, estimated – in Europe alone – to cost the industry €360 million.
“These creatures come out at night to feed on the blood of the hens, causing great distress to the birds and increasing mortality rates and disease susceptibility.”
Farmers may notice high stress levels within their flock, resulting in a reduction in: feed intake; egg production and quality; and weight gain.
Typically, hens will seem unsettled, reluctant to roost and display increased grooming and scratching.
“I strongly urge any farmers who are concerned they may be harbouring red mite on their farm to contact their vet to discuss treatment options as soon as possible.
“At this time of year, any delay may result in a further increase in mite numbers and seriously affect poultry welfare and productivity,” she concluded.
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