If you live in a geographic area where ticks thrive, then you know very well how much of a nuisance ticks can be.
During the warmer summer months, it may seem like you are pulling multiple ticks off your family members or dogs every single day. After a while, living with ticks just becomes second nature. But it doesn’t have to be!
It is possible to control the tick population around your property. How, might you ask? With chickens, of course!
If you are as intrigued as we were when we learned chickens could solve our tick problems, then keep on reading. You won’t be disappointed.
Why Use Chickens For Tick Control?
Believe it or not, chickens are actually omnivores. They are the happiest and healthiest when they are able to eat both plants and insects. Chickens eat all kinds of other insects, not just ticks. Other pesky insects that chickens enjoy are:
But be careful. It should be noted that chickens may also help themselves to other insects that are necessarily designated as ‘pests’, such as:
- Honey bees
Chickens as a form of tick control are actually well documented. There have been multiple scientific studies that investigated the use of chickens to control ticks on cattle farms in various parts of Africa.
They found the number of ticks eaten in a 60-minute period ranged from 3 to 331 ticks. With the average being 81 ticks per chicken.
Now, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Using chickens as a form of tick control is not going to get rid of your tick problem overnight.
Like other ‘all-natural pest control solutions, you will have to be patient, and give the chickens times to adapt.
But you can set yourself (and your chickens) up for success by selecting the best type of chicken for the job.
Understanding Tick Basics
We get it, ticks are blood-sucking, nasty insects – and you likely want nothing to do with them in your hard, on your pets, or in your home. We totally understand!
However, it’s important to know that not all ticks are dangerous in the sense that they carry disease. Let’s be honest, we are all most worried about Lyme disease, right?
Well, in fact, not all ticks carry Lyme disease. That said, some other tick species do carry various transmissible diseases that you need to keep a watchful eye out for.
|Species of Tick:||Location:||Known Diseases:|
|American Dog Tick||Found all over North America||Rocky Mountain Spotted fever|
|Deer Tick||Found in every state, but most commonly in eastern states,||Lyme disease, babesiosis, and anaplasmosis|
|Lone Star Tick||Southeastern, Midwestern, and Eastern United States||Nymphs and adults can transmit Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and stari borreliosis|
|Rocky Mountain Wood Tick||Mountain and Pacific Northwest Regions||Colorado tick fever, rocky mountain spotted fever|
|Western-Backlegged Tick||Pacific Coast States, British Colombia, and Canada||Lyme Disease|
|Brown Dog Tick||Southern Tier of the United States||Can transmit rocky mountain spotted fever to dogs, and rarely humans|
|Pacific Coast Tick||Pacific coast from Oregon to Baja Peninsula of Mexico||11% can carry spotted fever|
|Gulf Coast Tick||Coastal areas of the Atlantic Ocean, and Gulf Coast||No known diseases|
|Cayenne Tick||Texas, and other southern states, along with Central and South America||No known diseases|
Understanding the ins and outs of where you live, and the most common tick found near your location is the best way to become informed.
And if you do live in an area that has ticks that carry Lyme disease, it’s important to understand that not every single tick of that species will contain Lyme.
So even if you do find a deer tick, for example, it may not have transmitted Lyme disease.
The Best Chicken Breeds For Tick Control
When it comes to choosing the correct chicken for the job, you want to focus on selecting a breed that is excellent at foraging. The more effectively a chicken can forage, the more ticks it will be able to find and consume.
Best Chickens for Tick Control
- Golden Comet
- Jersey Giant
- Old English Game
When it comes to tick control, chickens are a great choice, especially if you choose any of the breeds from above.
In addition to chickens, though, there is another type of fowl that absolutely needs to be mentioned in any conversation about natural predators of ticks.
The Guinea Hen
For tick control, you may also want to consider the guinea hen. Although it’s not technically a type of chicken, the guinea hen is another type of non-mammalian fowl that is excellent at foraging for and eating ticks.
You can raise these birds right alongside your chickens to double up on your tick control efforts.
However, guinea hens are notorious for being harder to raise than chickens. Guinea hens tend to be ‘wilder’, than chickens. They enjoy doing what they want when they want.
They will roost and lay eggs wherever they please, making them harder to manage. Guinea hens are much louder than chickens also.
Lastly, guinea hens aren’t as commonly raised as a food source for you and your family. So if you like to raise chickens for tick control, and for the occasional chicken noodle soup, then guinea hens may not be the best option.
Fowl That Won’t Help With Tick Control
As you might suspect, there are also some birds out there that won’t be able to help with tick control like chickens or guinea hens can.
- Geese: You might not have known this, but geese are actually vegetarian. Their diet consists entirely of plants. So if you raise geese, or your home is visited by geese, don’t expect them to help reduce the tick population.
- Broiler Chickens: While heritage-breed broilers or dual-purpose hens can be effective at getting rid of ticks, try to avoid hybrids like the Cornish Cross. They are a breed of chicken raised to grow fast and be used exclusively for their meat. They are large, lackadaisical chickens that would rather eat and rest than forage for insects.
- Young Birds: Small, immature birds just don’t possess the intelligence and hunting skills they need to be effective tick hunters. They will try, but don’t expect them to make a dent in the tick population. Just keep the youngins’ safe, and let them grow. They’ll make great hunters one day.
Other Ways To Control Ticks
Chickens are not the only way to control ticks on your farm or in your garden.
There are other secondary tick control methods that can reduce the tick population in and around your property.
In fact, we recommend a combination of all these strategies in order to form a holistic approach to keeping ticks out of the house.
Mow the Lawn Regularly
Ticks love to live in grassy areas. Specifically, they love long, uncut grasslands where they can live.
As they create their nests and thrive in grassy and wooded areas, they wait for a potential host to walk by and latch themselves onto.
Remove Any Piles of Leaf Debris
Ticks also love to hide in piles of leaves, wood, and other debris.
So after you prune your shrubs and trees, or rake up all the fallen leaves, we recommend you remove the piles of debris from your yard as soon as possible.
Like with other opportunistic pests, if you get rid of the temptation or the low-hanging fruit, ticks will choose to move elsewhere.
Temporarily Remove Bird Feeders
Bird feeders and amazingly effective at incentivizing beautiful birds to visit your yard. However, during tick season, they may also be incentivizing ticks to stick around your yard as they wait for birds to come along.
Temporarily removing objects that attract animals to your yard, like bird feeders, will reduce the number of potential hosts spending time around your home.
And therefore, removing them will also reduce the presence of ticks.
Monitor Your Furry Friends
Our beloved dogs and cats make great hosts for ticks, especially the adventurous ones that like to play outside and get lost in all the tall weeds and wooded areas.
That is why is crucial to monitor your furry friends for the presence of ticks when they want to come in from outside.
During tick season, it’s best to get in the habit of checking your pet every couple of days.
There are also medications and vaccinations you can give your pet to deter ticks, and protect them from disease if one still manages to latch on.
Create a Barrier Around Your Yard
Ticks are not interested in being in the center of your yard. They prefer the fringes of your property where it’s safer and where plants are bushier and less manicured.
That is why we recommend creating a barrier around your yard.
A decorative (and functional) 3-foot barrier of wood chips or gravel can help mitigate tick migration from the fringes of your property to the center, where folks tend to hang out more often.
Strategically Locate Your Outdoor Furniture
When it comes to playground equipment, decks, patios, and other outdoor furniture, is important to locate them away from the edges of the yard.
Like we mentioned above, tend to prefer the fringes of your yard. So the less time you can spend in those areas, the better off you will be.
Consult a Pest Control Professional
If other pests, like rodents, skunks, or squirrels, are visiting your yard a lot, they may be attracting ticks.
If you suspect that this may be happening, and you’re having a tough time managing the presence of whatever pest it might be, you may consider consulting a pest control professional.
They will be able to assess the problem you are experiencing, and recommend a custom solution to fit your needs.
What To Do If You Find a Tick
If you find a tick on you, a family member, or a pet dog, do not panic. You can safely remove the tick using the steps below:
- Use clean, fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible
- Pull upward with steady, even pressure; do not twist or jerk the tick
- After removing the tick, clean the area
- Dispose of the tick by flushing it down the toilet, or placing it in a sealed bag or container, and throwing it away
Nowadays, you can send any tick you have removed to a local laboratory for testing. Within a week or so, the lab will send back a full write-up of what the tick was, and if it was positive or negative for certain diseases.
Depending on the lab, getting a tick tested can cost between $10 and $20, plus postage. But receiving closure on whether you may have contracted Lyme is totally worth it.
Using Chickens as Part of Your Tick Control Strategy
Most of us enjoy raising chickens because they provide us with delicious and nutritious eggs and meat. Plus, they are awfully cute.
What’s even better is that chickens love eating insects as part of their omnivorous diet, especially ticks.
Final Thoughts About Using Chickens for Tick Control
So if you struggle with a large tick population around your home, maybe consider letting your chickens roam freely in order to use chickens for tick control.
In addition to using chickens as a form of tick control, you may also consider:
- Mowing your lawn frequently, and manicuring other grassy areas
- Removing piles of plant debris from your yard that may be harboring ticks
- Temporarily removing bird feeders and other items that attract wildlife to your yard during tick season
- Monitoring your furry friends and family members for ticks when they come in from playing or working outside
- Consulting a pest control specialist for their professional opinion
Chickens are just one strategy of many that can be utilized to reduce the tick population around your home.
We recommend a combination of all the tactics from above in order to form a holistic approach.
It may seem like a lot of work, but the peace of mind is totally worth it!