Backyard Chickens: Tick Predators or Tick Food?

Author: Mosquito Squad of Southeastern Massachusetts

Over the last few years, raising backyard chickens has become a growing trend. In fact, the last survey conducted by the USDA found 13 million backyard chicken farmers in the United States. Healthy eating, local food, and farm to table movements are a big driver behind this trend, however not the only thing pushing this nationwide rise. Many of these new suburban farmers believe that chickens eat a large number of ticks. But do they?

Chickens as Predators

A chicken

Birds eat bugs. Chickens are birds, and ticks are bugs, so it’s not a completely ridiculous assumption that chickens would eat ticks. Based on Google searches, there are plenty of bird owners out there claiming it is true. The only problem is that there is little scientific proof. TickEncounter of Rhode Island did some research, and they found only one fact-based study, and it didn’t exactly emulate backyard chicken life in America. Not to dash anyone’s hopes of chickens as tick control, but there just isn’t a lot of evidence to support the theory.

Chickens as Tick Food

On the other hand, there seems to be a more measurable truth. TickSpotters, a site that anyone can use to submit tick pictures and receive information, is receiving pictures of ticks that homeowners are finding on their backyard fowl. One backyard farmer reported continuing to find them from June through September. Lone Star ticks are known for feeding on wild turkeys so they could be dangerous to the chicken population, but TickEncounter is finding the Asian Longhorned tick to be more common on chickens.

Check Your Chickens as You Do Your Pets

Chickens may be able to rid themselves of some ticks, and who knows, maybe they eat a few. However, ticks that latch on around the chicken’s beak can remain there until wholly engorged, as the chickens have no way to pick them off. We recommend you check your chickens for ticks, just as you would any other beloved pet. Ticks will attach and stay attached if you don’t. If you’ve chosen to keep chickens on your own, you surely want to do all you can to keep them healthy.

There’s something else you can do to keep ticks off your chickens, your dogs, your kids, and yourself -- Mosquito Squad’s professional mosquito and tick barrier spray. It will eliminate up to 90% of the existing adult ticks in your yard. They can’t feed on your chickens if they aren’t even there. We also recommend our tick tube program for long-term tick population reduction.

It doesn’t matter what kind of pets you choose to have or why you choose to have them. The best way to keep them tick free is to do the most you can to keep the ticks away. We make that easy. Call today.