Do you have a fly problem in your backyard chicken coop? Flies carry many nasty diseases and love to make a pest of themselves, so keeping them under control is always a concern. Unfortunately, most of the commercial methods of fly control make use of unpleasant chemicals that may not do much for the health of your chickens. Here are some natural solutions and a few bits of useful advice to help you keep your fly issues under control.
Do chickens attract flies?
Chickens themselves don’t attract flies but moist chicken droppings and other wet messy organic areas in a chicken coop will attract plenty of flies and give them places to breed in. This is why it’s best to keep these messy areas to a minimum and ensure that there are no water soakage issues in your backyard chicken coop. The best way to deal with backyard chickens and flies is to focus on prevention to stop them from being initially attracted to the coop, but you should also have measures to deal with any flies that hang around.
Do chickens eat flies?
Yes, chickens love to eat both flies and fly larvae (maggots). This can be a problem though as many flies act as hosts for diseases and parasites which may harm your chickens.
The common housefly is known to carry the tapeworm Choanotaenia Infundibulum. This parasite can affect an infected chicken’s health by depriving it of nutrients its body needs. Green bottlefly larvae are another issue for chickens. These larvae can cause botulism (limberneck disease) in chickens.
So while your chickens can eat flies and maggots it’s best to engage in some backyard chickens fly control to keep your birds healthy. Reducing the population of flies in the area lowers the risk of infection and also makes your property a more pleasant place to live.
How do you control flies around chickens?
To keep flies around your chicken coop and the areas where your chickens forage to a minimum you mainly need to keep them clean of chicken droppings and other filth. This means regularly cleaning these areas and refreshing any bedding or other material you may use in the coop. This should help control the situation with backyard chickens and flies but you should also take other measures to repel flies and deal with them when they show up.
One thing you shouldn’t do is use poisons to kill off the local fly population. Your chickens will end up eating the fly carcasses and may become sick from the poison. Some poisons may also transfer to any eggs the chickens lay. This may not be a huge issue for humans as most insecticides are designed to be relatively harmless to the average person. Your chickens have a much smaller body mass and different physiology to a human though and may be adversely affected by eating poisoned flies.
How do you control flies naturally?
Flies have been a problem for both humans and our animal livestock for thousands of years. There have been some interesting suggestions over that time on how to naturally control and repel flies and other insect pests. Some people today swear by vanilla as a fly repellant. Others advocate hanging a bag of water with a penny in it near the areas you want to keep clear of flies. Or just bags of water without the pennies.
Many of these suggestions are probably more wishful thinking than useful advice. The Mythbusters tested the myth about hanging bags of water keeping flies out of an area and found that they ended up with more flies in the areas with water bags than they did in their control area.
Fortunately, there are plenty of natural backyard chickens fly control methods that actually have some science behind them. Many of these are based on the following essential oils.
In addition to having a fresh smell, pine oil apparently has a scent that keeps flies at bay. If you have any pine trees in your area perhaps you could also consider collecting some of the fallen pine cones to scatter around your backyard chicken coop.
This oil distilled from lavender plants is reported to make a good fly repellant. It is commonly used in perfume too, so it will also make your chicken coop smell fabulous.
The Eucalyptus family of plants originate from Australia, which is a country known for a high population of flies. Perhaps unsurprising, the pungent oil derived from eucalyptus plants is a great fly repellant in addition to having many other uses.
This oil distilled from a hybrid mint is another fresh-smelling natural fly repellant that you can try out. Peppermint oil is known to have a high concentration of pulegone and other natural insecticides which makes it a good choice for backyard chickens fly control.
This oil is aptly named, as the Cymbopogon Citratus plants it comes from smell very similar to lemons. In addition to possibly cleaning your chicken coop of flies this oil was once used in the practice of Hoodoo to spiritually clean houses of evil, so your coop should also be free of ghosts and other nasty apparitions.
You should be able to use at least some of these suggestions to keep the local fly population under control and away from your chickens. Try making a mixture out of them and see what works the most efficiently.
What smell will keep flies away?
Here are a few plants that are reported to repel flies. Try them out and see if you get a result in dealing with the problem of backyard chickens and flies that harass them.
This pungently sweet tropical herb is known for its ability to send houseflies on their way. Unfortunately, it also tends to lose its smell fairly quickly once it starts to dry out so you may want to use it fresh.
The smell of this Indonesian spice that originates as a flower bud is another strong fly repellant. Growing it is a little more involved than just planting a herb garden though as it is sourced from the tall clove tree.
The sweet smell of cinnamon is not such a sweet scent for flies apparently. They are not a fan of the smell of this delicious spice. This may be due to the essential oil, Cinnamaldehyde, that is found in cinnamon.
In addition to giving an area a minty fresh smell mint is also known as a decent fly repellant. If you have any leftover it also makes a great garnish for meals.
In addition to being beautiful looking flowers the forty-seven known species of Lavandula, or Lavender, are also reputed to be an effective fly repellant. Planting these around your chicken coop will make the area look and smell great in addition to keeping the flies away.
The leaves and flowers of the common marigold, Calendula Officinalis, have many interesting uses. While apparently not all that tasty the florets are edible and make a good garnish. This flower is apparently not all that palatable to flies though as they are reportedly repelled by its smell.
You should have many of these plants, herbs, and other items at hand in your house, so put some near an area that is heavy with flies and see how they react. If you get a good result you should probably consider starting a garden near your chicken coop to grow them. In addition to keeping the flies at bay, you’ll always have herbs and garnish at hand for your cooking.
Does vinegar keep flies away?
While flies are repelled by many of the freshly sweet scents discussed above, the bitter-sweet scent of vinegar is actually something that attracts them. While this makes vinegar a poor repellant, it does make for good bait when used in a DIY fly trap.
Simple vinegar fly traps
One common trap makes use of apple cider vinegar and dishwashing soap. Fill a container with about an inch in height of the vinegar and squirt in some sweet-smelling dishwashing detergent. You can either leave the top open or cover it in plastic wrap with some holes cut into it to let the flies in. The flies will be attracted to the vinegar and will land on the surface of it. The dishwashing liquid will stick to their legs and wings and stop them from flying off. They will eventually drown in the dish. This might be a good trap to use near the nesting area in your coop but bear in mind that the chickens probably shouldn’t be allowed to drink the dishwashing water in the mix.
Another vinegar-based trap that you can potentially hang out of the reach of your chickens makes use of an old plastic soda bottle. Cut the top off the bottle about an inch below where it starts to taper up to the neck. Turn the top around and place it back into the bottle. Pour some apple cider vinegar into the bottle to attract flies. The flies will go into the bottle and won’t be able to find their way out again due to the narrow inverted opening. You also can cut some holes into the bottle and use a bit of wire to hang it in your coop.
What other methods trap or kill flies?
While it might give your chickens some stress from the constant buzzing noise an electric outdoor fly zapper is a good way to keep flies under control. They are attracted to the light in the zapper and then are electrocuted when they touch the electrified mesh.
For a more passive solution, you can try using flypaper. This paper is coated with a sticky material that attracts flies and then sticks them to the paper when they land on it. Put some of this in your coop to solve the problem of your backyard chickens and flies not getting along with each other.
Flies are a constant pest that can be hard to deal with in airy open areas like a chicken coop. Hopefully, these methods should give you some useful ideas on how to keep those flying nuisances away from your chickens. So put some of these ideas to use and see which ones work best for both you and your feathered friends.