Backyard chickens may not live as good of a life as most people think.
Researchers at the University of California, Riverside, have found backyard chickens are more likely than chickens on commercial chicken farms to be infested by ectoparasites, which are parasites such as fleas, lice and mites that live on the exterior of an organism. Their work was published online today in the Journal of Medical Entomology. The research comes at a time when several states, including California, have banned or limited the use of isolated “battery cages” in favor of enriched cages or cage-free operations. The European Union has also banned battery cages. And a bill that would have banned those cages in the United States was introduced in Congress but failed to pass.
The researchers – Amy C. Murillo, a graduate student and Bradley A. Mullens, a professor of entomology – believe that these more open, cage-free or free-range type habitats increase the risk of acquisition and transmission of ectoparasites.