Chickens on Allotments - Preventing Red Mites
One of the main benefits of a plastic coop over a wooden coop is that they are easy to clean. Keeping a coop clean and dry is essential for healthy chickens. One of the most common, and potentially serious, causes of trouble is Red Mites.
Red Mites are blood-feeding ecto-parasites that live in cracks and crevices in a chicken house away from daylight, coming out at night to hop onto a bird for a feast. Ecto-parasites attack or feed on the outside of the bird as opposed to endo-parasites (e.g. worms) which feed on the inside. A plastic coop has the benefit of few hiding places for these troublesome mites. Red Mite are hard to spot and before you know it, they are everywhere.
A cold winter can help to kill some Red Mites but many will survive. Research has found that temperatures over 45 C and at -20 C are lethal. A steam cleaner can be very effective in chicken coops. This kills everything (red mites, bugs and germs) without resorting to chemicals. However at allotments it is unlikely that electricity power would be available for a steam cleaning.
There are many remedies available to help control Red Mites but as always prevention is better than cure. Not giving Red Mite somewhere to live is the best preventative measure. Clean coops and vigilance at all times is needed!