Aromatherapy for Chickens – sorry if this makes you itchy!

Eucalyptus citriodora and Thyme Linalol

I’ve kept chickens for years – they are full of character, make great pets and the eggs taste like nothing you will ever buy and I know that they have been well looked after.

Imagine my horror then at finding that they had a pretty nasty infestation of feather mite – a little straw-coloured blighter called Menopon gallinae aka the shaft louse.  I had just been raving about how effective Diatomaceous Earth (DE) was in preventing red mite and also for preventing flea infestation on my three cats!  But I had been a bit lax with my use of it recently and also discovered that all the places that the chickens dust bathe were too wet due to the time of year.  Also contrary to what you might think would be the case – these lice actually increase through the autumn and winter due to moulting.  So dust bath now in place under cover – filled with soil, sand, wood ash from the fire and DE – hopefully they will now be able to tackle the lice in the way that chickens naturally deal with them.  I spent Sunday clearing the house and hosed it down completely, finishing it off with a spraying of thyme oil in a base of liquid soap and water.  Apparently Thyme EO is very good at preventing red mite infestation and although this was not present, prevention is better than cure.  Nesting boxes filled with elephant grass and a good sprinkling of DE together with the dust bath should sort it.  House smells lovely too – and I’ve now made up a solution of thyme cleaner to be left in the house regularly.

However, how to deal with those nasty clumps of nits stuck to the feather shafts?  Essential oils to the rescue again!  Eucalyptus citriodora known as lemon eucalyptus mixed with olive oil (1 drop per 5ml of olive oil) is used to coat the nits which acts to suffocate them and when that wears off, the Eucalyptus’ insecticidal properties get to work too!  Perfect.  So I am waiting on the arrival of my citriodora oil which I ordered yesterday as I’ve only got E globulus in my oil stash.

So thinking about human head lice – I am now going to do some research on the safety and efficacy of E citriodora on humans!  I have already used the suffocation approach with head lice and coating hair with oil then wrapping cling film really does work to kill off head lice, but you do need to repeat the process if there are nits present too.  So if this oil kills nits too – bonus!





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