Egg producers are being encouraged to consider worker welfare when tackling red mite. As many producers are aware, red mite can severely impact bird productivity and health. However, Andrew Hollins, a free-range egg producer from Shropshire, has found that the disease can also cause health issues for workers.
“It is often forgotten that red mite can cause irritation to people. Publicity usually focuses on the consequences of the parasite to birds, which is why many producers will try to reduce the burden. However, it is important to remember that treating birds will also benefit your workforce as it can prevent red mite from spreading to people,” said Hollins.
When workers come into contact with infested birds, or sheds, the red mites can crawl onto workers leading to irritation which can cause dermatitis and other skin conditions. With this, there is then also a greater risk of spreading the mite from shed-to-shed and to other sites.
“To prevent red mite spreading to other sheds it is particularly important to treat for the parasite, as you could end up bringing red mite into an environment that was red mite free, causing a costly infestation.”
“I am very risk aware, so I will avoid using treatments which may be harmful to those applying them. Similarly, I will use easy to apply products to make sure the workforce spends as little time as possible treating for red mite,” said Hollins.
“From my experience I have found that using Exzolt, which is administered through the drinking water, minimises the need for my staff to spray chemicals which can be unpleasant,” he said.