Simon Rawson, General Manager at Roxby Farm Supplies advises on a range of consumables to the agricultural industry, with a particular focus on biosecurity and dietetics. We spoke with Simon to discover why he recommends Harmonix Poultry Red Mite to his customers, as part of an IPM strategy, to target what can be a profit reducing pest for poultry farmers.
Why are poultry red mites such a big problem?
Simon says, “Poultry red mites are a huge problem for poultry farmers, especially during warmer weather. They have a direct impact upon profit, as they reduce growth rates and can lower production levels of eggs by as much as 20%.
“Red mites can lead to lesions in meat, poor egg shell integrity and egg spotting. They can also carry salmonella, E.Coli and listeria, amongst other pathogens.
“To put an infestation into context, in the worst cases five per cent of a bird’s blood can be lost in just one night, with birds carrying up to 500,000 of them. And, 5,000 red mites on one bird can reduce its weight by 1g per day.
“To top it off, these mites are incredibly difficult to kill. And the problem isn’t helped by us losing several products from the market that could be used during a laying cycle to target the pest.”
So, what do you recommend?
“With cycles lasting up to approximately 80 weeks, potentially involving two summers, farmers need a safe solution, that doesn’t require the removal of birds. I recommend Harmonix Poultry Red Mite, alongside an improved diatomaceous earth, that can be used during a cycle, as other products on the market are only suitable at turnaround time, in the main.
“When compared to an alternative method, Harmonix Poultry Red Mite is far more cost effective and performs exceptionally well when used correctly. We recommend it primarily because it’s safe to use whilst the birds are present, as well as being safe for the user.”
Do you have any advice for using the product?
“Harmonix Poultry Red Mite needs to be used as part of an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) programme, within the C & D procedure to prevent mites spreading from flock to flock. At Roxby Farm Supplies, we give free advice to farmers on IPM. We pride ourselves upon good advice, rather than just selling a product.
“We all want an easy solution but with IPM it’s not always seen as the quickest and cheapest, as it involves multiple steps. However, a sensible approach, with a few simple steps, attacking the pest on several levels, ultimately leads to better results.
“The main thing above anything else though is to follow the label, which is usually where people fall down and don’t see the results they want. Using the product as stated is the best possible way to get red mites under control.
“Harmonix Poultry Red Mite isn’t a knock down product but works by desiccation. Clients usually expect to see mites instantly die upon contact, but this isn’t the way the product works.”
Roxby Farm Supplies encourages its customers to use the product within a biosecurity programme. This involves:
1.Spraying Harmonix Poultry Red Mite seven days before depletion of stock.
2.Re-applying as soon birds are depleted and before mucking out.
3.Using a good quality detergent at manufacturer’s recommended rates, prior to washing.
4.Disinfectant choice is also vital.
5.Using an approved diatomaceous earth powder across floors and nests pre-litter.
Simon concludes, “Regular use of Harmonix Poultry Red Mite will stop numbers building. I’d suggest repeating after 7-10 days. This is just because the product won’t affect any red mites that are still at the egg stage. After 7-10 days they will have hatched and can be treated by the second wave of product.
“A red mite infestation can build very quickly and can even survive without feeding, lying dormant for months. I would suggest using the product every six weeks to keep on top of them as part of an ongoing approach.”
These frustrating pests – for farmers and for birds - can be difficult to eradicate and have serious implications on animal welfare and egg production. Discover more about how Harmonix Poultry Red Mite can help you, here.