Friday, April 27, 2018

Keep flies out of chicken coop

If you have a chicken coop, then you have flies. Flies are attracted to things like fresh poop and wet bedding so they just love hanging out in the chicken coop. Luckily there are a few very effective ways to keep flies out of the chicken coop!

The first step in reducing the fly population is to stop attracting them. They especially like fresh poop and wet feed. By cleaning up under the roost each morning and allowing my chickens to free range all day, the amount of fresh poop inside the coop is minimal.

fly free chicken coop after following these instructions

When chicken feed, water and bedding mix they form a nasty smelling fermenting mass that flies seem to love. Leave it too long and you'll see maggots in it. Gross. I use a pan under the water bowl for easy cleanup of spills, plus it keeps the floor from being wet all the time. Also remove any treats (like fruit) that the chickens haven't finished since rotting food is a favorite of flies. 

Now that we've removed the things that attract the flies to the coop, here are the steps I use to keep them from returning.

How to keep flies OUT of the chicken coop

1) Fly paper rolls: This is basically a roll of tape with some type of fly attractant on it. The wide ones work better than those tiny strips that are sold in grocery stores. Actually, I don't think the tiny strips have anything on them, they're just sticky tape...but they both work on the same principle that flies land on them and get stuck. You'll want to hang these as high as possible because if your chicken does manage to tangle with one, she will get it stuck to her. (please don't ask how I know this, it wasn't my smartest moment!)

2) Pest spray: You can make a natural pest spray by blending marigold flowers and water in a blender, then straining the flowers out and pouring the liquid into a spray bottle. Avoid spraying on light colored surfaces as it could stain. You can also make a basil mint fly spray using this recipe.

3) Incense bucket: This is a trick I learned when working in a candle shop many years ago. Burning incense keeps bugs away. We advised customers to light some incense sticks around their patio or yard when they wanted to keep bugs away. This works around the chicken coop too.  

The scent doesn't matter, so I buy the stuff at the dollar store. Just make sure the chickens can't get to it since it is really hot! I use a 5 gallon bucket and put an inch or so of sand or pebbles inside. Stick the incense into the sand to hold it steady. If the incense falls over, it will simply burn out on the sand....or it might go out. Either way, the sand keeps it from melting a hole in the bucket!

Bucket with incense sticks to repel flies

You can also stick the incense sticks into flower baskets hung outside the coop, as long as they're too high for the chickens to reach.

4) Flowers and herbs: Marigolds, basil, lemongrass, lavender,  Alliums and valerian flowers all repel flies. You can either plant them near the coop door and windows, or hang fresh cuttings inside the coop like I do. This also helps if your chicken coop tends to stink.

fresh herbs repelling flies in a chicken coop

5) Carnivorous plants: The Pitcher plant can be grown in containers outside the chicken coop. Insects enter the tubes of the pitcher plant and cannot escape. They are then digested by the plant. Pitcher plants are fairly simple to grow, though might be harder to find than the more common Venus flytrap. Both are effective at killing flying insects, though you'll need to bring them in the house over winter as neither are cold hardy. 

pitcher plant used for fly control

6) Essential oils: You have to see the adorable chicken shaped diffusers CityGirl Farming made for her chicken coop! I made one using Lavender essential oil for my silkie coop and it really helped keep the flies away.

Hopefully you're fly problem will be solved quickly!

~L

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