How to control flies in the chicken coop

How to control flies in the chicken coop

Flies are a common pest in the chicken coop. During summer months flies can be a real problem. As well as
being unpleasant and annoying, flies and their larvae can also make chickens sick.

Top 4 reasons you don't want flies in the coop

  1. Flies are carriers of disease. They can introduce Salmonella and Camphylobacter into the coop. These two diseases can pass on to the chickens and also potentially humans.
  2. Flies and maggots are a well known carrier of the bacteria Clostridium Botulinum. This is the bacteria that causes botulism. By landing on wet chicken food or decaying food scraps, flies can spread the bacteria. Once the bacteria takes hold and maggots grow and feed on the wet feed or food scraps, the maggots magnify the toxin. Chickens love maggots and there lies the problem. Once they eat the tasty, juicy toxic maggots, they digest highly concentrated doses of botulism. This can lead to paralysis as well as death. See the bottom of this article for further links to treating chickens with botulism poisoning.
  3. Chickens can get flystrike. This occurs when flies lay their eggs on a chicken and the maggots essentially eat the chicken alive. Fortunately, if you are an observant chicken keeper you will see the signs early such as sores and infections. If you see these signs you should quarantine your chicken, treat the wounds and wait for good health to return before putting the bird back into the flock. Healthy chickens are unlikely to suffer from flystrike, however chickens with a dirty vent or an open pecking wound are prime targets.
  4. If allowed to get out of control flies won't just stay in the coop but will also spread to your house and around the yard.

What attracts flies to the chicken coop?

In warmer months flies love everything about a chicken coop. It's warm, possibly damp and a great source of plentiful food. Here are the main sources of attraction of flies to the coop or chicken run.

  • chicken droppings
  • food scraps
  • wet feed
  • muddy puddles
  • damp patches caused by droppings
  • puddles around the chicken drinker

How to prevent flies in and around the chicken coop and run

The best way to prevent flies in and around the coop and run is remove the sources of attraction.

  1. Clean the coop

    Give the coop a good thorough clean every month with Apple Cider Vinegar. This natural cleaner has antimicrobial properties with harsh chemicals. So it is safe to clean with and also leaves the coop smelling fresh for the chickens and uninviting to flies.

  2. Don't allow droppings to build up

    Chicken droppings are a big invitation for flies. Use dropping trays and clean them daily if possible. Change bedding regularly and inspect the pen for any build up of droppings in the run.

    If you compost your droppings use a compost bin with a lid or ensure your open compost bin is located nowhere near the house or the chicken run. See our article on How to make your own chicken compost.

  3. Remove left over food scraps

    Leftover food scraps will start decaying very quickly. This is another prime attraction for flies. The easiest way to avoid uneaten food scraps is to only provide your poultry which enough scraps which can be consumed within 20 minutes. If there is anything left over remove it and next time, feed them with a little less.

  4. Stick to fruits and vegetables

    No only are fruits and vegetables the healthiest scrap choice for your laying hens but they also attract less flies than cooked food, dairy and meat.

  5. Keep the coop dry

    By avoiding wet and damp spots in the coop and run you help attract less flies. Install a roof over part of the chicken run. Fix any muddy puddles up. If you use a drinker that allows the chickens to splash the water around, invest in a Dine A Chook Drinker to eliminate this problem once and for all. It is really important to locate your chicken coop in a sunny, well drained location.

Natural ways to control flies in the chicken coop

For many backyard chicken keepers, keeping things natural and chemical free is at the top of the their coop management list. So here are some great ways to help control flies in and around the chicken coop.

  • Use fly traps - these can be found at many supermarkets as well as hardware stores. We have found the best one to be the Envirosafe Fly trap which is available at Bunnings. It comes with an attractant pouch. Simply remove the lid, pour in the pouch contents and mix with water. The flies go crazy for it, enter the trap then unable to escape end up drowning. Once it is full you can simply dispose of the dead fly contents into your waste bin. No toxic chemicals.
  • Fly paper is also another great way of catching the flies.
  • Clean the coop with Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Aromatic herbs not only look attractive but turn flies off. Try planting some lavender, mint, basil or bayleaf around the yard near the coop. Mint and eucalyptus essential oil sprays are another popular way of controlling flies.

Image: Use Apple Cider Vinegar as a natural, non toxic disinfectant for the coop

While Diatomaceous earth is natural and will kill flies, it is also deadly to other beneficial insects like bees. So if you choose to use it around breeding areas and wet patches, be careful. It is important to note that it can be harmful to humans as well as chickens if inhaled.

As a last resort, chemicals such as a residual insecticide spray will kill flies, but once again, it will also kill other beneficial insects.

If this article has helped you, share it with your friends and perhaps leave a comment below. Don't forget, we have hand picked the below links for other related articles that you may find useful for Caring for your chicken environment.

Happy Chicken Keeping

Rachael at Dine A Chook Australia

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