Poultry Lice

There are no pictures of this debacle as i was a bit too tied up with the events at hand to set up a camera to document the whole thing. I discovered lice crawling on my chickens one day when i parted their feathers while petting them and noticed these long, slender beige bugs just living their best lives sucking my chickens’ blood. Light colored combs, difficulty putting on weight, and white debris around the feather shafts can all be signs of poultry lice infestation. Daisy had a moderate amount of bugs on her while the rest of them seemed to only have a few here and there. I figured i should nip this in the butt while it was still manageable so i did some research and headed to the feed store for spray. They sold me the same spray they used on their own chickens and i was instructed to “soak” each chicken with the spray, aiming to get their skin and not just their feathers. I stared at the young man who had always been quite helpful to me at the local feed store. I asked, “How am i supposed to soak the chickens? At best only 3 will let me catch them and as soon as i start spraying they’re going to panic and death roll. i mean, how am i supposed to soak a fleeing chicken?” The young man said to me, “maybe do it at night when they’re all bedding down and kind of stationary.” Something told me this was not the problem solving brilliant idea it sounded like it would be. Something told me bedded down chickens could always wake up if they thought they were under attack. So i sought to get as many chickens sprayed as i could before nightfall, so i wouldnt have to work so hard in the dark. Of course the first chicken i sprayed was Daisy. She was the only one that would willingly climb in my lap. She did not disappoint and after a minimal amount of struggling she settled her head on my arm and let me spray her under her wings and around her vent, parting her feathers to soak her in this poultry lice killing fluid. She did still kick me at the end before fleeing in a mess of feathers but she sat still for a good amount of the spraying, voicing appreciation of the cool liquid on a very hot day and unappreciation of being pinned interchangeably. I then grabbed Rosie, who made a completely unnecessary amount of fuss and in all probability didnt even need it. I couldnt find a bug on her though she didnt really let me have a thorough look. she was a super fat chicken with a dark red comb and shiny feathers. Chickens try to keep poultry lice at bay themselves by taking dust baths and i made sure they had plenty of dust to roll around in at the back of the pen. Rosie was probably doing a good job of lice management by herself but without a proper look i couldnt be sure so she got deloused just like everybody else. She wiped a fair amount of it on my feet and clothes. I really expected ellis and oakley would be the hardest to treat but huge Ellis is very motivated by food. Thinking i might have some, she walked right up to my extended hand and into my trap. I clamped my hands down around her and pinned her between my knees as i parted feathers and sprayed things. I pinned her with an elbow and one knee and now sprayed under a wing and around her neck. I suddenly remembered that you were supposed to do the neck first so all the lice didnt just crawl immediately to the chickens head for safety knowing you cant spray the eyes. I was barely getting any spray on their skin. Most of it was soaking feathers. How the heck was i supposed to establish a barrier around the neck? It took me another hour to catch Lily and then surprisingly distrustful little oakley. It was Petunia that made me wait until nightfall to put the wet clothes back on and finish what i started by spraying the last chicken. As i made a decision to save Petunia for nightfall, i emerged from the chicken pen drenched in foul smelling liquid. I had bits of corn and feathers in my hair and on my clothes. I spent three hours in the house before placing the door on the chicken coop. I waited about five minutes. Then i opened the big door to the coop, identified Petunia with the lantern, and tried to catch her. she ran around in circles, knocking chickens off roosting bars, stepping over chickens, flying into chickens, flying into bars, walls, and a window. She almost escaped through my feet three times. Then there would have been no catching her and the activity would have been over before it started. I finally realized i was going to have to get dirty for this and i wrestled her down in the shavings and spent chicken feed. She squawked loudly, screaming bloody murder as if i was killing her as i sprayed her down. Daisy took heed and rushed to the rescue, running like she does in that signature velociraptor way chickens do. She waddle-ran over to me where she grabbed a vein in the back of my hand and tried to wrestle it from under my skin. I thought about pulling Daisy off of me but i recognized this would be an effective tactic to get me to release my grip on Petunia so she could make her escape. I refused to take the bait. Instead i continued to spray Petunia thoroughly as Daisy collapsed not one but two veins in the back of my left hand and created cuts in the skin that would still be trying to scab over a week later. The cuts became immediately infected and required raw organic coconut and tea tree oil to heal. The chickens covered my spray laden clothing in feathers, discarded feed, poop, and dirt. I am sure i looked very festive. I was trying not to inhale as they had kicked up a large amount of old bedding dust which could contain harmful spores from bacteria in their waste that could scar my lungs. I crawled out of the chicken coop with debris all over my clothes and in my hair, blood and poop on my hand, and spray all over my glasses and neck. The final chicken was done. All had been sprayed. Yes, i deloused the chickens. I had done my duty. They would all be somewhat protected now. I called the feed store and asked about how often i would need to repeat this ritual with the chickens to keep them lice free. The young man answered cheerfully, “oh about once a week.” I stared at the chickens from where i stood in the grass, “round two next monday.” They looked about as excited for the event as i was.

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