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 Title Page
 Summary
 Lice
 Fleas
 Lice and fleas, and mites
 Discussion
 Literature cited
 Historic note






Group Title: Bulletin - University of Florida. Agricultural Experiment Station ; 374
Title: Field experiments in the use of sulfur to control lice, fleas and mites of chickens
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Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00027430/00001
 Material Information
Title: Field experiments in the use of sulfur to control lice, fleas and mites of chickens
Series Title: Bulletin University of Florida. Agricultural Experiment Station
Physical Description: 8 p. : ; 23 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Emmel, M. W ( Mark Wirth ), b. 1895
Publisher: University of Florida Agricultural Experiment Station
Place of Publication: Gainesville Fla
Publication Date: 1942
 Subjects
Subject: Chickens -- Parasites -- Control -- Florida   ( lcsh )
Chickens -- Experiments   ( lcsh )
Sulfur   ( lcsh )
Genre: government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
 Notes
Statement of Responsibility: by M.W. Emmel.
General Note: Cover title.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00027430
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: aleph - 000925176
oclc - 18230306
notis - AEN5820

Table of Contents
    Title Page
        Page 1
    Summary
        Page 2
    Lice
        Page 3
        Page 4
    Fleas
        Page 5
    Lice and fleas, and mites
        Page 6
    Discussion
        Page 7
    Literature cited
        Page 8
    Historic note
        Page 9
Full Text

August, 1942


UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
AGRICULTURAL EXPERIMENT STATION
WILMON NEWELL, Director
GAINESVILLE, FLORIDA






FIELD EXPERIMENTS IN THE USE OF SULFUR TO

CONTROL LICE, FLEAS AND MITES OF CHICKENS


By M. W. EMMEL
Veterinarian, Florida Agricultural Experiment Station


Fig. 1.-Applying sulfur to a poultry yard for the control of fleas and lice.


Single copies free to Florida residents upon request to
AGRICULTURAL EXPERIMENT STATION
GAINESVILLE, FLORIDA


Bulletin 374



















SUMMARY
Chicken lice (the large and small body louse, shaft louse and
fluff louse) were completely eradicated from 10 farm flocks by
feeding 5 percent of dusting sulfur in the regular mash for a
period of three weeks and scattering sulfur over the soil in the
yards at the rate of 2 pounds per 100 square feet.
Sticktight fleas were completely controlled by a similar pro-
cedure in eight farm flocks. Combined infestations of lice and
fleas were controlled successfully on seven farms by the same
procedure.
Sulfur getting onto external parts of the birds appears to be
the important factor in this means of control.
The common chicken mite was controlled successfully on eight
farms by dusting sulfur about the house and on the litter, drop-
ping boards and nesting material.







FIELD EXPERIMENTS IN THE USE OF SULFUR TO
CONTROL LICE, FLEAS AND MITES OF CHICKENS1

By M. W. EMMEL

Previous reports (1, 2)2 have indicated that commercial flour
sulfur fed to adult birds at the rate of 5 percent in the regular
mash for a period of three weeks had considerable value in the
control of some of the external parasites of chickens maintained
in confinement.
This bulletin reports on a series of field experiments in which
attempts were made to determine the value of sulfur in the
control of external parasites of chickens.
LICE
In preliminary experiments conducted in 1937 (1) the feed-
ing of 5 percent of commercial flour sulfur in the mash for a
period of three weeks controlled lice infestations in adult birds
kept in small open-front houses with wire floors. These houses
faced west and the birds were forced to receive the full benefit
of the afternoon summer sun throughout the entire three-week
period. Birds kept indoors and fed similarly failed to show a
marked reduction of lice. However, when these latter birds
were removed to outdoor quarters, a marked reduction in lice
occurred within a few days. The odor of sulfur dioxide was very
distinct among the ruffled feathers of these birds. It was con-
cluded from these experiments that sunlight was an important
factor in increasing the effectiveness of the treatment.
While efforts were made in these experiments to prevent
the sulfur in the feed from getting onto the feathers, it seemed
apparent that such contamination might be an important factor
in this procedure. Consequently, another series of experiments
was conducted under similar outdoor conditions in which eight
birds heavily infested with lice were fed 5 grams of sulfur daily
in a capsule. This procedure eliminated the possibility of con-
tamination of the feathers by sulfur in the feed and represented
an intake of sulfur approximately the same as was consumed
with the feed in the preceding experiments. Lice infestations
at the end of the three-week period during which the experiment

SThis investigation was supported by a grant from the Freeport Sul-
phur Company.
2 See Literature Cited at the end of this bulletin.





Florida Agricultural Experiment Station


was in progress were not.reduced. A second trial involving eight
birds yielded similar results. From this experiment it was con-
cluded that the practice of feeding sulfur to birds in such a way
as to prevent contamination of the feathers was not effective in
the control of external parasites.
Another experiment was conducted in which five birds heavily
infested with lice were dusted with sulfur by means of a sprink-
ler-top can. The lice had totally disappeared when the birds
were examined one week later. A second trial in which six birds
were used yielded similar results. The conclusion was reached
that the control of lice infestations by feeding sulfur in the mash
was primarily the result of sulfur getting onto the feathers.
In a series of field trials conducted on eight farms during the
past summer, dusting sulfur was used in the mash instead of
commercial flour sulfur, since contamination should be accom-
plished more easily when a finer grade of sulfur was used. The
cheapest grades of dusting sulfur cost but little more than com-
mercial flour sulfur and are more generally available on the
agricultural market. The dusting sulfur used in these trials was
of such fineness that 93 to 95 percent of it would pass through
a 325-mesh sieve. It was conditioned with a harmless clay con-
ditioner which allowed it to be mixed easily with the mash. Five
pounds of dusting sulfur were mixed with 100 pounds of mash.
The farm flocks ranged in size from 17 to 400 birds. In the
larger flocks it was possible to have untreated controls. Some
of the yards were barren while others were partially or totally
covered with sod. Some of the yards were very shady, others
partially shaded or not shaded at all. All of the birds in the
small flocks and at least 15 representative birds in the large
flocks were inspected at the beginning of the experiment and
each week thereafter during the three-week period sulfur was
being fed the birds. In instances in which controls were pos-
sible, 10 birds were selected for this purpose.
At the conclusion of the experiment lice infestations in general
were reduced from approximately 30 to 75 percent under original
infestations. Birds with access to extremely sunny yards did
not show more marked reductions of infestations than birds in
extremely shady yards. It was clearly apparent that birds with
access to sunny yards did not spend much time in the yards
when the sunshine was brightest. Thus, while sunshine was
an important factor in the control of lice infestations in pre-
liminary experiments in which birds were forced to be in the





Sulfur to Control Lice, Fleas and Mites of Chickens


afternoon sun, sunshine proved to be an insignificant factor
under practical conditions, as the birds failed to stay in the sun
for extended periods of time.
Birds under crowded conditions did not seem to have lice
infestations reduced any more than birds under less crowded
conditions. In all flocks there were a few birds whose infesta-
tions actually seemed to increase. Just what the habits of these
birds were which caused them to remain free of sulfur are not
known; however, failure to preen the feathers is one of prob-
able importance.
In a second series of field trials dusting sulfur was fed as in
the preceding experiment to 10 flocks of chickens for a period
of three weeks. The size of the flocks varied from 25 to 500
birds. Conditions of shade and soil vegetation were quite similar
to those of the preceding experiments. In addition to feeding
sulfur in the mash, dusting sulfur was scattered over the surface
of the soil in the yards at the beginning of the experiment at
the rate of approximately 2 pounds per 100 square feet (Fig. 1).
Inspections were made at seven-day intervals as in the preced-
ing experiment.
Lice infestations were markedly reduced one week after the
experiment was initiated. At the end of the three-week period
louse control was practically complete in all flocks. The original
infestations consisted principally of the large and small body
louse. Control birds failed to show any notable reduction in
lice numbers.
FLEAS

Dusting sulfur was fed for a period of three weeks to four
flocks of chickens infested with the sticktight flea. The amount
fed was similar to that used in the preceding experiments in the
control of lice. Flocks ranged in size from 22 to 175 birds.
Inspections were made at weekly intervals.
At the end of three weeks, observations showed that approxi-
mately 90 percent of the fleas had disappeared from the birds.
However, inspections made 30 days later indicated that the birds
were again rather heavily infested with fleas. As the flea breeds
in the dust and sand on the surface of the soil it was assumed
that reinfestation was occurring from this source.
A second experiment was conducted on three farms on which
the birds were infested with sticktight fleas. In this instance
the yards and the floors of the houses were sulfurized at the rate





Florida Agricultural Experiment Station


of 2 pounds of dusting sulfur per 100 square feet. The three
flocks were composed of 75, 150, and 170 birds. One of the
houses had an earth floor. Periodic inspections showed that
at the end of three weeks flea infestations were markedly re-
duced but that absolute control was not achieved.
A third experiment was conducted on eight farms on which
the birds were heavily infested with sticktight fleas. The flocks
ranged in size from 38 to 400 birds. The birds were fed dusting
sulfur in their mash for a period of three weeks and the litter
and yards were sulfurized at the rate of 2 pounds per 100 square
feet. At the end of three weeks close observations indicated that
the birds were totally devoid of fleas. A final inspection 30
days later revealed that reinfestation had failed to occur.

LICE AND FLEAS
Heavy infestations of both lice and sticktight fleas were found
on seven farms. The flocks ranged in size from 75 to 160 birds.
Feeding dusting sulfur in the mash for a period of three weeks
and the sulfurization of the litter and yards at the rate of 2
pounds per 100 square feet resulted in absolute control in all
cases.
MITES
Preliminary experiments (1) indicated that common chicken
mites can be controlled by dusting sulfur about the house and
on the litter, dropping boards and nesting material.
This method of controlling mites was used on eight flocks in
which heavy mite infestation occurred. The flocks ranged in
size from 90 to 200 birds. Dusting sulfur was sprinkled on the
litter, dropping boards and under the nesting material. Inspec-
tion seven days later showed that the activities of the birds
were responsible for sulfur being worked into the cracks and
crevices of the houses. Infestation was reduced to the extent
that mites were extremely difficult to find. Two weeks later
the owners reported that mite infestation was no longer a
problem.
One farm was found in which mites infested range shelters.
The shelters had a dropping pit on each side of a central aisle
which had a board floor. The dropping pit was covered with
one inch poultry netting which was supported at six points by
a 11/ inch board. The roosting poles were supported by a board
of similar width which rested immediately on top of the board
supporting the poultry netting. The passage of the poultry





Sulfur to Control Lice, Fleas and Mites of Chickens


netting between these supports formed a crack which was teem-
ing with mites. The boards were pried apart and the cracks
were filled with sulfur. An inspection seven days later showed
that mite infestation had been eliminated entirely.

DISCUSSION
Feeding 5 percent of dusting sulfur in the regular mash for
a period of three weeks as in these experiments did not have
any apparent ill effects upon the birds. Owners did not report
any decrease in egg production during the time the flocks were
under observation. Eggs gathered from nests in which sulfur
had been dusted did not have any off-flavors. Sulfur-fed birds
showed a rather dry, harsh, greyish, scaly appearance of the
comb and wattles. Considerable scaly debris was observed
among the feathers. The odor of sulfur dioxide could be de-
tected among the ruffled feathers of many birds during the
periods of observation. Dead lice were found frequently among
the feathers of sulfur-fed birds. The feeding of sulfur in the
mash for three weeks, as far as could be ascertained, did not
impair the economic productivity of the flocks treated.
There are many other recognized and effective treatments for
lice. Dusting, dipping or the use of blue ointment under the
vent requires that the birds be handled individually. Erratic
results often are obtained when nicotine sulfate is placed on
the perches. Under the conditions of these experiments the
feeding of 5 percent of dusting sulfur in the mash and the sul-
furization of yards and houses gave uniformly satisfactory re-
sults. The only apparent limitation of the treatment appears
to be that the birds must be confined within an area which is
practical to treat with sulfur.
The sticktight flea and the common chicken mite have been
difficult to control in this state by remedies which have been
advocated heretofore. It has not been a difficult problem to rid
birds of fleas which were attached to the body. However, as
in the case of many other parasites, the prevention of reinfesta-
tion has been a perplexing problem. Fleas breed in the sand,
trash and litter in the houses and yards. The feeding of sulfur
and the sulfurization of the houses and yards appears to be a
most effective method of preventing reinfestation from these
breeding places. Mites breed in cracks and crevices about the
house. Sprinkling sulfur about the houses results in the mate-
rial being worked into these cracks and crevices by the activities





Florida Agricultural Experiment Station


of the birds and the parasites are destroyed in their breeding
places.
One outstanding advantage of the use of sulfur in the control
of lice, fleas, and mites, as in these experiments, is that the same
treatment is effective for all three types of external parasites.
In the case of mite infestation alone, however, it was not neces-
sary to add sulfur to the feed.
'The control of lice by feeding 5 percent of dusting sulfur in
the mash and the sulfurization of houses and yards appears to
be based upon impregnation of the feathers of the birds with
sulfur. The sulfur is apparently oxidized to sulfur dioxide, as
the odor of this gas can be detected among-the feathers of many
birds. Thus the action appears to be one of fumigation. These
experiments have indicated that in case the feathers of the
birds become sufficiently impregnated with sulfur, control of
lice will be effective regardless of atmospheric temperature. The
body temperature of chickens is approximately 1070 F. This
temperature apparently is sufficient to produce effective fuming
and oxidation of sulfur even in cool weather. In -Florida, at
least, this treatment seems to be as effective during the winter
months as during the summer months.
Any one of the several grades of powdered sulfur might be
used for the sulfurization of the mash, litter and yards, but for
all-around utility purposes the cheapest grade of 325-mesh dust-
ing sulfur, conditioned with clay to free it of lumps, is most
satisfactory. Commercial flour sulfur tends to become lumpy
on storage and its coarseness does not permit maximum con-
tamination of the feathers of the birds with sulfur. Flowers
of sulfur, a sublimed product, is usually too expensive for eco-
nomic use for litter and soil treatment. Clay-conditioned, 325-
mesh dusting sulfur is available on the Florida market for about
3 cents a pound. At this price per pound for sulfur the cost
of the treatment compares favorably with other treatments now
in use. No other single treatment is as effective against so
many types of external parasites.

iyv LITERATURE CITED
1. EMMEL, M. W. The use of sulfur in the control of external parasites
of chickens. Journ. Amer. Vet. Med. Assoc. 91: 201. 1937.
2. EMMEL, M. W. Sulfur in the control of external parasites of chickens.
Fla. Agr. Exp. Sta. Press Bul. 515. 1938.









HISTORIC NOTE


The publications in this collection do
not reflect current scientific knowledge
or recommendations. These texts
represent the historic publishing
record of the Institute for Food and
Agricultural Sciences and should be
used only to trace the historic work of
the Institute and its staff. Current IFAS
research may be found on the
Electronic Data Information Source
(EDIS)

site maintained by the Florida
Cooperative Extension Service.






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