Lyme Disease Alert
On average, 822 new cases of Lyme disease are reported every day in the US. That means there's 300,000 infections every year. What can we do to prevent it?
If you're in a hurry, allow me to save you some time and answer the question right now...
Yes! Chickens will eat ticks! But there's so much more to think about with this, so please stick with us.
You love the outdoors. Sure some people don't, but you're here reading this so I'll wager that you do. The problem with being outdoors is it exposes you to the creepy crawly things. Ticks (which are arachnids) certainly fall under the "creepy crawly" umbrella. Unfortunately, these guys can deliver several possible infections. As mentioned above in particular, Lyme disease is reaching epidemic proportions.
The big problem besides all of the symptoms is that there is no (at the time of this writing) reliable method of detection. The bullseye rash that most people associate with the disease is easily missed if it even presents itself at all. There are new tests in development that may yield better more accurate results. If you're feeling nerdy, here's the link to the Journal of Clinical Microbiology.
So what we're all probably thinking is, "How do we protect ourselves?" For the sake of argument, let's say you're not a fan of using chemical sprays on your yard or on your body (or your kids' for that matter). Could chickens be the answer?
Recently, the Wall Street Journal published an article on this very topic. Let me break down the important points for you. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) refuses to endorse chickens as a solution not because they think it won't work but because they feel it is not their specialty. They're probably right. In this case, experience most likely trumps the research (hard to admit for someone who taught science for over a decade).
Their major concern, rightfully so, is that someone will go get some chickens and think they can just stop worrying about ticks. "But I want a silver bullet!" you say. Sorry. Common sense dictates that you must always remain vigilant.
Not only is it possible that chickens will not be 100% effective in eliminating the ticks on your property, it is possible that they will bring new problems into your life. As with any animal you bring into your life, they are your responsibility. You need to ensure they are fed, healthy and safe. If not maintained properly, there are other health issues associated with keeping birds.
Please don't jump in without doing all of your research first. The good news is that if you decide the chickens are not for you, you are likely to find someone that will take them off of your hands. We want you to be sustainable, so taking our time is important.
One of the first concerns you'll need to address is the habitat that you provide for your birds. If you fancy yourself a little handy, we've got a set of free plans for you to download from a website we found.
Free 18 Page PDF
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I am a husband, father of 3, and a full time educator. I take my passion for sustainability from at home in the garden with my family to school with the children in the community. Through awareness, change can come. Will you change with us? We'd be happy to have you.