EGG producers are being encouraged to consider worker welfare when tackling red mite.

Red mite can severely impact bird productivity and health, but free-range egg producer Andrew Collins, has found the disease can also cause health issues for workers.

He said 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."

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. There is then also a greater risk of spreading the mite from shed-to-shed and to other sites.

When it comes to red mite treatments, Mr Collins selects his products carefully to make sure they deliver excellent results, improve bird productivity, and do not affect his workers.

He said: "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.

"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. Another benefit is that because it is easy to administer, it isn’t time consuming to apply."