House design and selection for Red Mite prevention.

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hillfooter

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House design and selection for Red Mite prevention.
« on: March 27, 2011, 14:02 »
In an earlier post on house design which concentrated on wooden houses Joyfull asked if I would add a section on plastic houses to it in the interests of balance.  However that post was mainly aimed at DIY design /build and as that's not applicable to plastic moulding design (yet!), I thought I'd revisit house design in the context of Red Mite control where plastic houses excell.    So I hope with rhe Red Mite season starting in full swing this post might be useful.  This is just an introduction so please add your experiences and thoughts on the topic of DESIGN for Red Mite control and particularly prevention.

Red Mite prevention is better than a cure and this starts with the selection of an appropriate house design.

RM live in close proximity to the birds which they visit to feed on so make your house long term RM unfriendly.  RM need a dark warm moist environment with narrow seams and cracks where they can crowd together and their individual waxy coating offers the colony protection where they can lay their eggs and start a new generation.  Often these places are between joints and crevices and often a roof offers perfect conditions for a RM nursery, particularly if it is covered in mineral felt where they have the perfect moist and protected environment they need.
So the first thing to consider is house design and materials.  Plastic housing has become more popular and affordable in recent years and certainly for a small back garden flock the EGLU is certainly and option.  The benefits of EGLUs for RM avoidance are frequently mentioned in posts on RM.  Its smooth hard plastic surfaces with few seams doesnt offer many moist hiding places RM need.  Also the ease of cleaning makes removing any dirt in seams, that does offer the right conditions, very easy.  RM wont colonise a dry clean plastic surface.  
Of course plastic is not appropriate for larger houses and with plastic you are limited to the choice of very few designs and manufacturers.  Not everyone likes the aesthetic looks of plastic and particularly in a rural setting they can look a little incongruous.  Wood is still by far the most versatile and popular material for constructing houses, offering an infinite choice of design features and looks.   Although not inherently red mite unfriendly you neednt despair, with a little work and the right strategy wooden houses can be kept RM free.

If you are designing and constructing your own house you should consider maximum usage of sheet materials such as pretreated exterior grade plywood and corrugated bitumen impregnated roofing board.  Onduline is a branded material which is ideal, light weight and durable.  Structural framework should be external where possible to reduce the number of internal seams.  Of course seams cant be avoided at the edges but using a semi hard setting glue/filler(so it has some flexibility but is not easy to pick out) as a caulk is a good idea.

Using materials pre-treated with preservatives, preferably pressure injected, is also much better than painting on preservative yourself.  This is because professionally treated wood uses preservative which contains pesticides which protect against fungus and insect damage.  Such chemical treatments can only be applied by the professional trade whereas amateur DIY preservatives generally are based on water repellents which are applied to the surface only and leach out quickly needing annual renewal.  Keepers who bought houses more than 5 years or so ago will have found that their houses remained RM free for years because the chemicals used pre the latest EU regulations were far more potent pesticides (and hazardous to handle) than ones used today.  This may have lead to the notion that they were immune to RM or that the resistance to RM was due to other measures they were taking.  Eventually the effect of even an impregnated preservative will wear off, particularly with regular cleaning with detergent.

Ease of cleaning is key so no trapped dirt gets left behind ledges and side supports and its not so much of a chore that you put off doing the regular clean.  A completely flat and open sided floor space which can be swept out is ideal and far better than removable dropping trays which add seams and spill droppings.  Lift out internal fittings are a must feature too.  An excellent DIY design is described by Diggit on this site and anyone contemplating designing and building their own house should read his thread, not only for RM measures but many other chicken keeping aspects of house design and ease of construction.  See
http://chat.allotment-garden.org/index.php?topic=69975.msg799456#msg799456.
RM prefer humid conditions so its doubly important that the house is weatherproof from rain and well ventilated.

So in summary,

Consider a plastic house if you have a small number of birds and don't dislike the looks.
If you are building your own minimise breeding and hiding places using sheet material and caulking seams.
If wood use preservative impregnated material.
Re apply with a preservative containing a pesticide /or apply a residual insecticide annually.
Consider a completely open design which can be swept out with no inaccessible corners or ledges. All internal fittings should be removable.
The design should be completely weatherproof and dry inside.
HF
« Last Edit: March 27, 2011, 14:05 by hillfooter »
Truth through science.

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joyfull

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Re: House design and selection for Red Mite prevention.
« Reply #1 on: March 27, 2011, 17:38 »
As a foot note to this not all plastic houses look out of place in a rural setting:-

http://chat.allotment-garden.org/index.php?topic=73673.0

This is the first of my new ones and another should be joining this in about a month, same size and shape as their pig arks so fit in very well in a rural setting  :D.
my wooden coops now all have a new home except for my sabelpoots house but by July this will be replaced by a smaller ark  :D.
Staffies are softer than you think.

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hillfooter

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Re: House design and selection for Red Mite prevention.
« Reply #2 on: March 27, 2011, 21:48 »
As a foot note to this not all plastic houses look out of place in a rural setting:-

http://chat.allotment-garden.org/index.php?topic=73673.0

This is the first of my new ones and another should be joining this in about a month, same size and shape as their pig arks so fit in very well in a rural setting  :D.
my wooden coops now all have a new home except for my sabelpoots house but by July this will be replaced by a smaller ark  :D.

Well I guess beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.  I was mainly thinking about the omlet houses with their rather childrens playground colours when I refered to incongruous looking.

How do you clean these out. It's not a hands and knees job is it?  Shame they don't show the internal fittings on the website which is not the best presented I've seen.  I've not seen these in the flesh yet so I must make  a point of looking them out.  I'm sure you'll keep us updated on your experience with them.
Best wishes
HF
« Last Edit: March 27, 2011, 21:55 by hillfooter »

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ecofriendly

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Re: House design and selection for Red Mite prevention.
« Reply #3 on: March 27, 2011, 21:53 »
Most plastic hen houses have the option now of a removable floor certainly joys does.

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joyfull

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Re: House design and selection for Red Mite prevention.
« Reply #4 on: March 27, 2011, 21:56 »
for just a general clean it has a large rear door so you can just sweep it out with a broom  :)

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binghamd

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Re: House design and selection for Red Mite prevention.
« Reply #5 on: March 28, 2011, 21:49 »
Well done Hillfooter. Just the info we need.
Isn't it interesting how few commercial product  use these ideas! Designed to a look not a use.

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binghamd

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Re: House design and selection for Red Mite prevention.
« Reply #6 on: March 28, 2011, 22:05 »
Just another thought.
Do you think part of the problem may be that the ventilation of most coops is not adequate, so it stays moist inside all the time, just what RM need. We often seem more worried about the hens staying warm.



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