Controlling poultry red mite populations


Poultry red mite

A parasitic mite that proliferates rapidly

What is the growth rate of poultry red mite ?

Poultry red mite (Dermanyssus gallinae) is a very common mite in laying hen farms and is widespread throughout the world. It is particularly present in Europe, where nearly 90% of the farms are affected.

Poultry red mites are fast-growing acari, reaching the adult stage in
about ten days. They do not live permanently on birds; they hide in nooks and crannies away from the light and then come to feed off their host’s blood when it is dark. Poultry red mite can take up to 3% of a bird’s blood in a day, causing anemia, stress, increased feed consumption, and a reduction in egg-laying rate.

How does poultry red mite proliferate?

At the nymph stage, the red mite can easily survive 9 months without feeding. Each adult red mite can lay 21 eggs after a blood meal, which is essential for reproduction. This is why, in case of uncontrolled infestation, red mite multiply exponentially, with serious consequences for poultry and their productivity. A heavily infested hen can harbor up to 250,000 red mites.

What are the

Impacts of red mites on poultry?

On top of an increase in the conversion index, red mites are vectors of diseases and cause chronic stress in the hens, resulting in pecking between individuals. This results in a decrease in production parameters and an increase in mortality and impacts birds’ well-being.

There is also a deterioration of the egg quality (weight, shell strength) and also the appearance of blood-stained eggs which then cannot be sold.

In Europe the cost caused by Dermanyssus gallinae exceeds 300 million Euros each year with an average cost per hen of 0,50€ in case of medium infestation and which can exceed 2€/hen in more severe scenarios.

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How to

Control red mite populations in poultry?

Chemical solutions

To control the level of infestation there are several approaches. 

The most commonly used solutions are chemical, with the use of acaricide molecules. Although expensive, these methods are effective and allow a strong reduction of the population. 

However, when they feel threatened, red mites secrete pheromones which allow them to form “clusters” by aggregating, in order to increase their resistance. This is how bioresistance phenomena appeared during the last decades due to the massive use of these synthetic compounds.

The pulverization of silica and diatomaceous earth-based powder

A second control method is the spraying of powder containing silica and diatomaceous earth to mechanically neutralize the red mites. These methods are rarely used because they are technically difficult to implement and very expensive.

Nor-Mite®: A natural combination of aromatic plant extracts with repellent properties

Finally, there is a third strategy, preventive and natural: the use of aromatic plant extracts with repellent properties. Incorporated in the feed or in the water, the repulsive aromatic compounds are secreted by the birds’ uropygial glands which leads to a modification of their smell. As a result, red mites no longer feed on the blood, and can therefore no longer reproduce.

This method is a real alternative to acaricide products for the control of the parasite. However, it is important that a close detection is put in place so that this strategy is applied as soon as necessary.

Natural solution to contribute to the control of poultry red mite populations


Nor-Mite® is a feed additive with natural aromatic compounds developed by Nor-Feed for poultry farms.

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