Spiders in the chicken coop

If you have chickens for any length of time then I'm sure you've had spiders in your chicken coop by now! Not only do spiders like to eat the bugs that are attracted to rotting feed and chicken poop, but they're quite brilliant in where they place their webs. This makes it rather hard to get rid of spiders in the chicken coop. You can knock down the webs, but the spiders will just rebuild. The question is: are spiders in chicken coops a bad thing?

Spiders in chicken coop

Why are spiders in the chicken coop?

Spiders really don't give a darn about your chickens! They want the bugs that are attracted by chicken poop and leftover food items. Not only do spiders eat the bugs flying around your chicken coop, but they are bugs. Chickens like bugs and yes, chickens will eat spiders. Spiders are smarter than we tend to think though and they will build their nests up out of the chickens reach. You'll rarely see a web right by a roost or near the feed. Spiders will build their webs right on lights or in front of ventilation holes. Pretty smart for them to catch the bugs where they're most likely to be.

Of course this means that when you walk into the chicken coop the webs are often hanging right in front of you which can be pretty unpleasant. So, should you knock down the spider webs in the chicken coop, or just leave them there? 

I do a little bit of both.

Spider webs in the chicken coop

I think one of the worst problems with leaving spider webs in the chicken coop is that they get dusty very quickly. Chickens and their bedding make a lot of dust, with chicks being the biggest culprit. Because of this, spider webs become filled with dust and they don't work anymore. Well, they catch dust, just not bugs. The spider will abandon the web and build another. 

You'll soon have rafters full of dusty spiderwebs and just as many bugs as before. The weight of the dust makes the webs droop down and now you'll get a face full of dusty spider web when you go into the coop. Gross. I knock these ones down as they are pretty much pointless.

Spider webs inside chicken coop

Will a spider harm my chicken?

Probably not. Spider mouths are really small and their aim is not so accurate in this type of situation, so if a spider tried to bite a chicken they'd probably get a feather which would be pointless. Plus, spider fangs are really tiny and they have a hard time biting through people skin, let alone the tougher skin of chicken feet or comb/wattles. 

If you're worried that a spider with a venomous bite will poison a chicken if the chicken eats it, then no. It just doesn't work like that. Spider venom only works when it's injected through the fangs, so your chicken could eat a black widow or brown recluse and would be perfectly fine. Here's a great explanation on spiders being venomous not poisonous.

Keeping spiders out of the chicken coop

Peppermint oil near ventilation holes. 

Spiders dislike the smell of mint so putting peppermint oil near the ventilation holes can deter spiders from entering your coop in the first place. Mix 4 ounces of witch hazel with a dozen drops of peppermint oil and dab on or spray along the ventilation holes outside the coop. 

I don't use peppermint oil inside my coop because of its toxicity to other animals. Obviously nobody does studies on chickens so we don't know how it effects them exactly. Placing some outside your coop at the roofline is fine, though do not spray it while the chickens are right there. Wait for free range time and it should dry up enough by the time they get back.

Spider webs in vent holes of chicken coop

Fresh mint in litter and nest boxes. 

The mint herb is much milder than straight oil so throwing a handful of mint leaves into the coop litter will not harm your chickens and might help keep spiders away.

Clean up spilled water quickly. 

Wet bedding and feed starts to rot or ferment and attracts bugs. Cleaning up and wet spots fairly quickly will keep the bugs down. Keeping the bugs down means the spiders don't want to hang out very long since there's no free meal. I use a water pan under my poultry drinkers so I can easily remove spills. This also helps to prevent wood floors from rot caused by moisture.

Scoop poop from under roosts.

Chickens poop while they sleep. Scooping this poop out in the morning when they go outside removes the very thing flies are attracted to. Less flies = less spiders.
Related reading: How to keep flies out of the chicken coop.

Sweep down webs when you see them.

Using a broom, sweep the webs down when you see them. This will discourage the spiders from taking up residence. If you see the spider on the web and don't want to hurt it, using the broom gently scoop the web up (spider and all) and place it away from the coop. The spider should leave shortly and hopefully will find a more suitable home. Don't forget to wear a mask when cleaning your coop!

Turn off the coop lights.

Spiders are really smart when it comes to setting up their webs. Many bugs are attracted to light, spiders know this. You will find webs around any light you leave on at night (unless it's the dead of winter and they're frozen!) so turn off the lights at night to keep spiders out.

The spiders aren't there for your chickens, but I totally get how you'd be a bit freaked out going into a coop and having spiders so close! I don't particularly care for them. Despite my best efforts the spiders do come back, but by following the above tips I've kept them down to a minimum.

Want to know more about building and maintaining a chicken coop? Click here for my other posts on everything you ever wanted to know about chicken coops!

Want information on raising chickens sent right to your email weekly? Click right here to join my list and get new posts sent directly to you the day they're published ... plus, you'll also get the free download '25 Ways to save money raising chickens'.

No comments:

Post a Comment