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Non-chemical control of Red Mite in laying hen housing systems (MITEeHEN) - AW1136

The poultry red mite is currently the most serious parasite of laying hens in Europe & poses a major threat to their welfare. It is a blood sucking parasite that disrupts normal behaviour of hens through irritation & restlessness as the birds endure the parasitism & may cause anaemia to such a degree that the bird dies. Red mite may also transfer disease eg Salmonella & also cuased reduced egg production, with fewer, smaller eggs produced, reduced shell quality & increased surface contamination with mites.

Traditionally farmers have relied upon synthetic chemicals to control red mite, applied wither during the laying period or when the building is washed out between different batches of hens. Many of these chemicals however are potentially damaging to human helath, may be harmful to the environment, & their overuse may lead to the development of resistance by the mites. The mite avoids predation from the hen by withdrawing into the cracks & crevices of the building during daylight & under favourable environmental conditions can reproduce & complete its lifecycle within 7 days. Hencea significan tpopulation of red mite can be established rapidly so that control can be extremely difficult, particular in more extensive housing systems such as barn and free range systems. The proportion of hens housed in these systems is likely to increase considerably over the next decade, as cage housing for hens has been prohibited by the EU from 2012. Control of red mite then by non-chemical means is therefore a key objective for safeguarding the health & welfare of the UK national flock of about 30 million hens. Indeed, the same case can be made for egg producing countries throughout Europe, where the health of Eurpoe's 280 million laying hens are at risk from red mite predation.

To identify and develop innovative non-chemical means of controlling red mite in poultry housing systems to safeguard animal health and welfare.

1. To evaluate the efficacy of plant-based extracts in controlling red mite populations
2. To transfer this knowledge and technology to the poultry industry
Project Documents
• Final Report : Non-Chemical Control of Red Mite in Laying Hen Housing Systems (MITEeHEN)   (305k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2006

To: 2008

Cost: £250,561
Contractor / Funded Organisations
University - Newcastle
Animal Welfare              
Plants and Animals              
Fields of Study
Animal Welfare