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{Flock Update} Lime Sulfur Dip

Okay, so like I mentioned last week, I’ve started the Ithakē Flock on a 4-week lime sulfur dip treatment for mites & lice. This is kind of a last resort for me at this point since I’ve tried every treatment I’ve found so far for mites & lice. But here’s the thing: there are no signs of mites or lice on the birds like all the articles say there should be. The only thing that’s noticeably off about the Ithakē Flock is the condition of their tail/chest feathers. It looks like something is running them along a cheese grater.

When the feathers fall out, the shafts look normal. There are no egg clusters. Checking the birds themselves, it’s the same story. No eggs, no bugs, just ratty looking feathers, bare, irritated skin & pin feathers where they’re regrowing.

I was at the end of my rope a month ago with this. I felt like a really terrible caregiver because I couldn’t get any of the treatments to stop the continuing feather damage. I finally found a thread on BYC about a certain type of mite that small wild birds carry that eat the feathers on chickens (& birds in general I assume). They suggested that using veterinary grade lime sulfur dip for 4 weeks would clear the problem up. When I finally had a full paycheck last week, I ordered the dip & started the treatments. I also ordered a bunch of coop/pen cleaning supplies just to cover all my bases with this. I do worry that they’ll continue to get these mites from the barn swallows until I get a proper tin roof on the pen, but the process is easy & won’t be hard to do periodically. I just have to get used to smelling like a rotten egg for an hour or so after bathing them since they make sure to get me covered as well.

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Here’s what I’m using: the Lime Sulfur dip & a shampoo that came with a poultry show grooming kit I bought during the winter to use on Odysseus when the weather got warmer. Besides the dip & a mild shampoo/soap, you’ll need water & 3 containers. The directions I got said to use 5gal buckets, but I found that the bird is slightly easier the handle on the shampoo step in a tub they can stand in. These photos are from the 1st week when I only had 2 buckets & thought the tough part would be rinsing the birds for some reason. This week, I got another bucket but ended up using a tub for the shampoo step for all the birds except Memnoch & Ava’Dara (they were too big for the tub). They got to be shampooed in a bucket.

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Per instructions, mix the sulfur dip with water in 1 bucket, shampoo & water in either a tub or another bucket & then just straight water in the final bucket.

It’s a 3-part process. First, you get the bird in the soapy water tub/bucket & work the shampoo into the feathers good to make sure they’re getting wet. From what I’ve read, The natural oils on the feathers makes the chickens pretty waterproof. Working the shampoo into the feathers helps negate the oils & helps get all the feathers wet. The Polish hens have this layer of really fluffy feathers just underneath the top layer that I had to really work to get wet. Ava’Dara is pretty much all that type of feather. She was definitely the toughest to get fully drenched.

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Second, you take the soapy bird & rinse it off in the bucket of water. Like I said earlier, this is easier than the shampoo step. I hold the bird facing away from me, with my hands wrapped around their torsos over the wings, thumbs over their spine & their leg between my ring & pinkie fingers. For me, I’ve found this keeps them calmer & I have better control of them. For the most part. Once you have a good grip on the bird, you just dip & swirl them in the water. I should mention here that I only submerge my chickens up to their necks* for this process. There isn’t any damage above the neck to them & also I’m super charged worried about drowning them if I submerge their whole body in the water.

Once the soap is rinsed off, you dip them in the lime sulfur mix, making sure to work it into the feathers for better coverage. The instructions say to wear gloves for this & I tried that the first week. I just ended up with rubber gloves full of sulfur water. I didn’t use any this go round. Either way, my hands smelled like a demon fart for the better part of 2 hours despite scrubbing with soap multiple times.

After that, I left them to air dry.

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The hens act shell shocked after the process & just stay wherever I place them in the pen when they’re done. I’m not sure what it is about being completely wet, but it throws them for a loop. After a minute or so, they get their wits back, shake & ruffle their feathers & find a sunny place to dry off in. With the temps in the 90’s this weekend, it didn’t take long for them all to dry off.

Last week, I only did the Ithakē Flock. This week, everyone got bathed but the 3 Amigas didn’t get the sulfur treatment. For some reason, I had it in my head that they were still too small/young to be dipped but I can’t tell you why. I feel like there was a warning on the lime sulfur bottle, but I’m not 100% certain. I’ll do this treatment at least once more before it gets cold, so they’ll get dipped then. Everyone but Penelope had a freak out during the process & I’m pretty sure I ended up covered more than they were.

Once they dried off, the adults got their feet coated in Bag Balm to help keep scaly leg mites away. Odysseus & Memnoch got their combs coated to help the scabs heal & just make the combs look nice, shiny & red.

It was a busy day at Salon Cluck today. They had me pretty wore out after all that work.

*to help combat any mites & lice on their necks & heads, I use the same combination of spray & powder on them that I use on the coops when I clean them out. Especially with the Polish crest, it’s just as important to treat the head area as it is the rest of the body. I also use the powder (which is either DE or this stuff called Grandma’s Coop Dust) in any area of the pen that looks like they’ve been using as a dust bathing area.

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