When I was very little, we had chickens and, of course, chicken coops. While I may not remember much about that part of my childhood, I do remember going to the coop to gather eggs.
Unfortunately, and this is common for all farmers, we also had flies on the property. Now, flies can be either a minor inconvenience or a serious problem.
If a fly problem gets out of control, it’s going to be very bad for your birds. They won’t just stay in the coop; they will also end up in your house.
Flies are carriers of diseases, notably Salmonella and Campylobacter which can spread throughout your flock and to humans. Flies and maggots are also well-known carriers of Clostridium Botulinum which is the bacteria that causes botulism.
When flies land on wet chicken food or food scraps, they can spread the bacteria. When the bacteria take hold, the maggots grow and eat the food.
Chickens love munching on maggots, which poses a serious problem as they end up digesting high doses of botulism. Those high doses can lead to paralysis and death.
They can also get flystrike, where flies lay eggs on them, and the maggots essentially eat your bird alive (ouch).
Thankfully, there are ways that you can get rid of flies in your coop.
Why do Flies like Chicken Coops? What Draws them in?
Before we look at how to get rid of flies, it’s important to know what attracts them to chicken coops. Here’s a list of things that attract flies.
- Chicken droppings
- Food scraps
- Wet feed
- Wet patches caused by droppings
- Muddy puddles
- Puddles around the drinker
Now that we have an idea of what attracts them, how do we keep them away?
1. Clean the Coop
This is an obvious one, but if you want to keep the flies out of your chicken coop then the best way is to keep it clean. Use a bit of apple cider vinegar (as opposed to harsh, potentially harmful chemicals), and give the coop a thorough cleaning every few weeks.
This includes making sure that you change the birds’ bedding regularly.
2. Clear out Food Scraps
Food scraps will decompose rapidly, and are a prime attraction for flies. If you want to keep the flies out, make sure there aren’t any food scraps left in the coop.
3. Give them Fruit and Veg
Fruit and veggie scraps attract fewer flies than dairy or meat scraps, and are a healthier choice for your hens.
4. Keep the Coop Dry
Puddles can draw flies easily, so you want to keep your chicken coop as dry as you possibly can. Keep your coop in the driest, sunny, and most well-drained location you can get.
5. Use Sand as Litter
Sand covers and dries out droppings and moisture in the coop, allowing you to keep the place nice and dry and reduce foul odors.
6. Carnivorous Plants
Venus flytraps are carnivorous plants that eat, you guessed it, flies! So why not plant a few in your yard around the coop?
You get a fly-free chicken coop, and some nice-looking flowers to go with it.
7. Keep Drinkers OUTSIDE!
You want your birds to be able to drink, but you want the coop dry, so put the drinking water outside the coop.
This eliminates the easiest source of moisture in the coop and prevents the formation of puddles which will attract flies.
8. Helper Insects
Okie-dokie, this one’s going to need some careful planning. Certain insects eat flies (no surprise there), and they can be used to keep the fly population in check.
The only problem with this is that chickens happen to enjoy snacking on these little guys, so you’ll have to put a hive/nest together in a spot where the birds won’t get them.
9. Install Fans in the Coop
Putting fans in your chicken coop keeps the air moving and makes it difficult for flies to…well… fly. Just keep in mind there’s a difference between ventilation and a draft.
10. No More Straw!
If you’ve got straw in your chicken coop, get rid of it! Straw isn’t absorbent so when it gets wet it starts to decompose. This, in turn, attracts flies – which you’re trying to avoid.
11. Move your Compost Pile
Flies are attracted to compost, right? Well, if the compost pile is too close to the chicken coop, then it makes sense that your birds will also have to deal with the flying nuisances!
So, to avoid this, relocate your compost heap as far away from the coop and yard as you can.
12. Fly Traps
Flytraps are another useful way to handle those pesky flies. Unfortunately, flytraps can have a couple of drawbacks. They can be pricey, and very unsightly; some of them can smell awful!
13. Essential Oil and Herbal Sprays
Using essential oils and / or herbal sprays isn’t a perfect solution, but it works quite well in a pinch. There are certain herbs and essential oils which flies tend to dislike, such as:
- … and many more
14. Diatomaceous Earth
Diatomaceous earth is the fossilized remains of tiny aquatic organisms. It works as a moisture absorber, keeping the coop dry and kills fly larva on contact.
15. Use Electric Zappers
Electric zappers use ultraviolet light to draw flies in, and electrocute them. They can be bought for both indoor and outdoor use.
16. Keep the Feed Locked Up
Keeping the feed locked up helps avoid attracting any scavengers or potential predators away from your chicken coop. You also avoid food spoilage and drawing flies to the coop.
If you’ve got a lot of standing water (i.e. a pond) on your property, then a few ducks can help reduce flies. Certain types of ducks will eat bugs like flies and mosquitoes.
18. Add Screens
Adding screens to the windows or vents can make it difficult for flies to get into the coop.
19. Make sure Your Birds have Dust Baths
A good dust bath provides a good barrier against biting pests (mites, flies, etc.), and repels them.
20. Chicken Tractors
Chicken tractors are basically moving pens that allow you to move your birds fairly easily, fertilize the soil, and provide your birds with fresh pastures.
With that in mind, moving your birds around regularly means they don’t have a chance to attract flies.
21. No Mud!
Mud is a certain fly attractant so if you clear out any mud, you can keep pests like flies and mosquitoes from being a bother.
There are a few insecticides that you can use to keep the flies and other pests at bay.
You need to be very, very careful with them so that you don’t end up hurting your birds or accidentally killing the beneficial bugs in the coop. With that in mind, it’s probably a good idea to use chemical insecticides as a last resort.
Clean Birds are Happy Birds!
Keeping your coops free of flies can keep them free of pests. Keeping your birds free of pests makes sure that your flock is full of happy, healthy birds!
These are only a handful of methods that you can use to keep the flies away from your birds.
I hope you guys and gals enjoyed the article and found it informative. Let me know what other methods of keeping flies away from your chickens you’ve used. As always, thanks for reading and I’ll see you in the next one.
Greg spent most of his childhood in camping grounds and on hiking trails. While he lives in suburbs nowadays, Greg was raised on a small farm with chickens. He’s a decent shot with a bow, and a knife enthusiast.