Do Chickens Eat Ticks and Spiders?

Have you ever wondered if chickens eat ticks and spiders? The short answer is yes. In fact, before we got chickens, I did a lot of research on this subject because we had a problem with black widow spiders.


Black Widow Spiders Ugh!


My theory with our black widow spider problem is that it started when we had a boulder retaining wall professionally built. I theorize the spiders came in on the black fabric they put in between the soil and the boulders. We didn't know this until I was playing with my kids in the sandbox. My oldest got in the box and then I bent to put my youngest in the sand. As I did this, I noticed a truly black spider on the sand. I used to be a naturalist, so I immediately knew what the spider was. I grabbed both kids fast and took them in the house. I went back out to catch the spider and show my husband.

From then on, we found black widows everywhere. We sprayed the boulder wall and, I am not exaggerating, we had hundreds of black widows crawl out and die on our pavement. It was so unprecedented that we called our local wildlife office to see if anyone else was infested. In fact, it was a banner year for the normally reclusive black widow spiders in our area. But our infestation was out of control and dangerous. My husband was bitten and we knew we couldn't continue to live with the poison control number posted on the fridge and the worry of what would happen if our young children were bitten.

When people ask me why we got chickens, our black widow spider problem tops the list. We stopped trying to use chemicals to solve our problem. We started our flock with 19 day-old chicks and let them free range once they got old enough. Since then, our birds have kept our spider problem in check. Yes. We still find an occasional black widow, but that's to be expected because they are native to the area.

Our chickens have proven to be great not just with black widows, but other spiders too. If I'm outside and happen upon a spider, I grab a chicken, show her the spider and she's more than happy to eat it.

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Do Chickens Eat Ticks?


Yes. Chickens do eat ticks. This is a great benefit of having a flock of backyard chickens since tick populations are growing and more and more people are contracting tick-borne diseases.

Guinea fowl have a great reputation for eating ticks and so do chickens. They will forage high and low when allowed to free range. They have great eyesight and a tick is a tasty meal.

There was a study done in 1991 where chickens were looked at as a viable part of an integrated tick management program in Africa. In the study, chickens were allowed to free range with infested cattle. It was found the chickens ate both engorged and unengorged ticks. They preferred unengorged ticks. The number of ticks they ate varied from 31 to 331 per chicken with an average of 81 per chicken.

Many folks that keep a backyard flock report a reduction in their insect population overall, including ticks. That has certainly been the case for me. But it's important to remember that chickens can't possibly eat every insect that enters your yard and should not be considered a tick-borne disease preventative. You can have chickens and still have ticks.


How to Help Your Chickens With Tick Control


Keep the grass in the areas where you are active cut short. Ticks love tall grass!

Reduce leaf litter and tree debris like fallen branches. These are areas where ticks love to hang out!

Keep yourself safe by using a safe pest spray and wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants. Be sure to tuck your pant legs into your socks so the ticks can't crawl up the inside of your pants.

Know your tick species.

Check yourself, your family members and pets for ticks every day.

Be sure to use tick preventatives on your outdoor pets. This is often included in a prescribed flea treatment. Be sure to ask your veterinarian for a recommendation.


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