Tick Tock, Ticks! How Many Ticks Does A Chicken Eat Per Day?

chickens for tick control


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Hi, I’m Ryan

I love hiking and gardening, but I hate getting ticks when I’m trying to enjoy nature. Thankfully, knowing how many ticks a chicken can eat in a day lets me use my flock as effective pest control on my homestead year-round.

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When I started using my flock for pest control, I was amazed at how effective my 15 chickens were at keeping the ticks at bay, and I began to wonder, how many ticks does a chicken eat per day, anyway? The answer I discovered will probably surprise you.

Obviously, the number of ticks chickens consume will depend on a lot of variables, such as how many chickens you have and where you live, so let’s take a closer look at how effective chicken tick control really is.

chickens eating ticks

How Many Ticks Does A Chicken Eat Per Day?

How Many Ticks Does A Chicken Eat Per Day

You might not think of your cute little hens as hard-core predators, but a single chicken is fully capable of eating hundreds of ticks per day, consuming an average of 80 ticks per hour! I was truly surprised to learn that some chickens (when hungry and free-ranging where ticks are plentiful) have even been known to eat over 300 ticks in an hour. I don’t really like to think about that many ticks existing anywhere, to be honest, but this fact instantly made me a bigger fan of chickens.

how to start homesteadingWith these statistics, the more chickens you have and the longer and farther you allow them to range, the more your flock can decrease the population of these harmful arachnids on your property. I mean, if one chicken can easily eat 80 ticks in an hour, just think of how many a dozen chickens could peck up in a day.

Before you get too excited, keep in mind that your chickens will not solely be hunting for ticks, and the more plenteous their pecking options, the longer it will take for them to go after these small snacks. On the flip side, you might not have that high of a tick population for them to eat (which is still a win). If you have a homestead with significant acreage, though, allowing your chickens to roam for at least an hour a day could really help keep these pesky bugs at bay.

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How To Know If Chicken Tick Control Is Enough By Itself

The truth is, some farmers and homesteaders insist that chickens don’t eat many ticks because of how small these bugs are. I say this to give you as full a picture as possible, since it seems that chickens don’t always work effectively for pest control in every situation. If you have a big problem with ticks (or any other bugs) you will probably need to explore additional methods of pest control. I have a list of some great natural options below.

using chickens to control ticksThat said, chickens do have great eyesight, and they are avid bug hunters. Knowing that, as well as the documented numbers of ticks they can eat (and having my own experience with my flock decreasing bugs on my property), I’m still a fan of using chickens for tick control.

I even have some ideas to make sure your flock will be as effective as possible.

Before we get there, let’s explore what pests your chickens will eat and how your flock can be affected by these pests as well.

Why Do Chickens Eat Ticks?

Why Do Chickens Eat Ticks

Chickens eat ticks because they are bugs, and they are there. If you’ve owned chickens for any length of time, you’re probably aware that they will eat just about anything, and I mean anything. They’ve even been observed trying to eat rocks. This makes chickens eating ticks pretty unsurprising.

feeding chickens

Do Chickens Eat Fleas As Well?

Yes, chickens do eat fleas. These little bugs provide a nice protein-filled mini snack for your foragers, and, while there isn’t a lot of science to back this up, many homesteaders insist that chickens significantly decrease the fleas on their property and on their animals.

Do Chickens Eat Chiggers Too?

Being pretty indiscriminate in the bugs they peck at, chickens likely eat chiggers, but these tiny outdoor mites are difficult to see, so it’s unlikely that they will eliminate all that many of them. In my personal experience and research, I’ve never heard of chickens having much of an impact on chigger problems.

how to build a chicken coop

Do Chickens Attract Ticks?

Do Chickens Attract Ticks

Unfortunately, chickens attract ticks just like every other bird, animal, or human. Fowl ticks will often hide out in your hens’ nesting boxes to feed and lay eggs on the poor things at night. According to the Merck Veterinary Manual, too many fowl ticks on your chickens can cause anemia, weight loss, depression, toxemia, and paralysis, so these ticks are no joke.

If you’re wondering how to get rid of ticks on chickens, remember that ticks are nocturnal, so you’ll want to start with the henhouse where your birds roost at night. Cassandra Alvarez from Real Self-Sufficiency recommends the following steps to deal with a tick infestation.

How To Treat Fowl Ticks

  • Vacuum out and destroy debris from henhouse.
  • Pressure wash every surface.
  • Seal cracks with caulk.
  • Apply a coat of paint.
  • Spray a natural tick killer.
  • Treat your chickens with diatomaceous earth.
How To Treat Fowl Ticks

Can Chickens Get Lyme Disease?

As far as we know, chickens can’t actually get or carry Lyme disease. This is great, considering chickens are not only affected by fowl ticks, but by other ticks as well. Even though this is good news, ticks will still bring other diseases and harmful bacteria to your chickens and other animals on your homestead.

Do Chickens Get Fleas?

Unfortunately, chickens do get fleas. Depending on where you live, your chickens will be attacked by different kinds of fleas, some of the most common being stricktight fleas and western chicken fleas. These pests are an irritant to your chickens that can result in restlessness, decreased egg production, anemia, and occasionally death in severe cases.

If you are dealing with a flea infestation, follow similar steps for treating fowl ticks. Many of the natural insecticide sprays and powders that work for ticks will also, thankfully, work to kill off fleas.

tips for homestead gardens

Types Of Natural Tick And Flea Repellant

There are some great forms of nontoxic tick and flea repellant out there to help you provide a safe environment for yourself and your chickens while getting rid of these pests. The following are just a few of many options, but these ones in particular have a good track record.

Natural Insecticide For Chickens

  • Southland Organics Desecticide: Combines peppermint oil, cove oil, and soap to kill numerous bugs on contact without harming your chickens.
  • Diatomaceous Earth: Has many uses, but can be applied directly to your birds without hurting them to kill ticks and other pests.
  • Wondercide Flea And Tick: Uses a combination of natural essential oils to kill and repel fleas, ticks, mosquitos, ants, and roaches.

Tips For Using Your Chickens For Tick Control

Tips For Using Your Chickens For Tick Control

If you’re ready to get started with some chicken tick control for your property, you’ll want to consider adding some specific chicken breeds to your flock and maybe trying a few tried and true strategies for using chickens to prevent ticks around the house or in your yard.

What Are The Best Breeds Of Chickens That Eat Ticks?

The better the forager, the better the tick control. While guinea hens are known as the best tick eaters among fowl, some breeds of chickens do pretty well for themselves because they are relentless foragers.

Best Breeds For Chicken Tick Control

  • Ameraucana
  • Andalusian
  • Golden Comet
  • Brown Leghorn
  • Cubalaya
  • Orpingtons
  • Australorps
  • Hamburg
  • Malay
  • New Hampshire
  • Cornish Cross
  • Plymouth Rock

How To Control Ticks On A Farm With Chickens

Wanting some ideas for how to control ticks on a farm with your chickens? Allowing your chickens to free range your property is a must, but I have also found that using a chicken tractor or a portable chicken coop is perfect when you have a lot of acreage, because you can easily control which areas your chickens target and for how long.

chicken coop garden combo

How To Prevent Ticks Around The House Using Chickens

Chances are you don’t want ticks around your house, but you probably don’t want chickens right up close and personal either. If you’re comfortable allowing them to free-range around your house, go for it, but it’s difficult to control where your chickens will scavenge if they have free reign.

how to build a homestead fence

To make sure they attack the ticks close to your home, have a small, portable coop that you can easily place over the flower beds or grass against your house to confine them to that particular area until you’re ready for them to forage somewhere else.
raised garden beds with portable chicken pens

How To Decrease Ticks In Your Yard With Chickens

To decrease ticks in your yard, simply let them have several hours of free-range time each day. One thing I will stress here is that the more acres you own, the more chickens you will want to have. Building your flock size in proportion to the number of acres you have will help your hens have a greater impact on your tick problem.

how to build a chicken nesting box

The Benefits Of Chicken Tick Control

The Benefits Of Chicken Tick Control

There are lots of chemical insecticides out there to help kill your bugs, so why bother with chickens and other natural forms of tick control? Chances are, you already know why you want to stay away from harsh chemicals in your homesteading journey.

chickens foraging in gardenBut in case you didn’t know, the chemicals in insecticides don’t just kill bugs — they are harmful to you and your birds as well. Swallowing, inhaling, or absorbing insecticides through your skin can be poisonous and cause heart problems and respiratory issues, among other things.

Also, remember the answer to that question — how many ticks does a chicken eat per day? Hundreds! So why not take advantage of the predatory side of your chickens and use them to attack these dreaded bugs?

Your Turn!

  • Have you noticed a reduction in the number of ticks on your property since you’ve had chickens?
  • What are some natural insect repellants that have helped you deal with fowl ticks?

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