How to Prevent Mites on your Roosting Bars
Mites love to make their home in the cracks and crevices of wooden roosting bars. They have a great food source that comes to them every night in the form of your chicken’s blood. Mites can cause chickens a lot of discomfort, loss of vigor, decreased egg production, and sometimes death. Mites are best to be avoided if possible. One great way to limit mite damage is to focus some attention to a likely home, your roosting bars.
If you have a lot of trees around you, you can use good sized fallen branches as roosting bars, and simply change them out periodically. The natural look of branches as roosting bars looks really cool, and it is what chickens would be roosting on in the wild anyway. Once a branch has been used though, don’t use it again as a roosting bar.
Another option is to use a plastic roosting bar. With a plastic roosting bar, you would not have to worry about the natural crevices. There are a couple of problems with using a plastic roosting bar though. If it is very smooth, the chickens won’t like it because it will be slippery. The other problem is where do you find something like that? I looked everywhere to see if I could find a plastic roosting bar, and the only place I could find one, was the Eglu Plastic Chicken Coop. These coops are extremely expensive, and they have plastic roosting bars in their coop, so you can buy replacement bars from them. The problem with that is they are sized for their coop, and they are not very long, so chances are you can’t buy one with the thought of just cutting it to size.
The final option, and the one I am using, is to seal up your wooden roosting bars with linseed oil. As much as I really like Snap Lock Plastic Chicken Coops, I don’t like it that the one piece of wood in the coop is the roosting bars. The good thing is they are easy to take out, seal, and put them back in. Sealing the wood with linseed oil will seal up those cracks and crevices as well as soak the wood with natural oil that the mites do not like. It will also drastically extend the life of your wooden roosting bars.
As a word of caution linseed oil can spontaneously combust, because when it is drying it heats up, so make sure you put all the materials that have linseed oil on it outside in an area away from anything combustible to dry. Then wash out any oil rags, brushes, or containers.
How to Seal Roosting Bars with Linseed Oil
1. You will need a rag to wipe of excess oil, a pan for the oil, a brush, gloves, and the linseed oil.
2. Make sure you will have at least 2 days of drying time over 50 degrees without rain.
3. Lay out your roosting bars, and put some oil in the pan. Brush the oil on the wood. Let it soak in a dry for at least an hour.
4. Turn your roosting bars and repeat step 2 until all sides are oiled.
5. Move the roosting bars to a safe drying location away from combustibles.
6. Wash out your pan, brush, and rag in a safe place. I used my gravel driveway. I also rinsed the driveway where some oil leaked.
7. Put the pan, brush, and rag in a safe drying location away from combustibles.
8. After 48 hours of good drying, the roosting bars are safe to put in your coop.