When raising chickens, flies can be a problem. As soon as warm weather arrives, it seems like the flies show up too. However, there are many ways you can control flies in the chicken coop.
But before we cover how to control the flies in the coop, let’s discuss why they are there in the first place.
Why Are Flies in My Chicken Coop?
Flies are attracted to warm, moist, stinky environments. Just like your chicken coop. If poop builds up, this is the perfect environment for flies.
Flies can also be attracted to the food you give your chickens, especially if you regularly give your chickens table scraps. And while a few flies are probably inevitable, you can control the number of flies in your coop with these simple strategies.
Are Flies Dangerous to My Chickens?
Unfortunately, yes. Flies can be a health hazard to your chickens. Flies carry diseases. If your chickens have any open wounds or poop stuck to them, the flies can lay eggs on them.
When the eggs hatch, they begin to eat the flesh of the animal. This is called flystrike, and as you can imagine, it’s a pretty nasty-looking disease. It’s also difficult to treat as the wound has to be kept very clean.
I’m not showing pictures here because this is a family-friendly site, but feel free to Google it for pictures. Just be warned. It’s pretty yucky looking.
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How to Control Flies in the Chicken Coop
While it would be nice to be able to totally eliminate flies from the coop, it’s almost impossible to do so. However, there are methods to keep the flies under control.
Keep a Clean Coop
First and foremost, keep a clean coop. If you use the deep litter method, be sure to clean out the coop in early spring. Remove all the waste, clean the coop, and start with fresh bedding. I prefer pine shavings.
Continue to remove the litter and waste every so often until the weather starts to turn cooler.
If you use other methods, be sure to clean the coop weekly and remove all excess waste and wet bedding.
Another thing that you may want to consider to help control the flies is a droppings board. A droppings board is placed under the roosts to catch the poop while the chickens sleep. If cleaned daily, this can be a very effective way of managing the fly population in the coop.
However, if you aren’t prepared to clean the droppings board daily, don’t use this method. With no litter to absorb the poop and odors on the board, you will actually be inviting MORE flies into the coop.
Eliminate Standing Water In and Around the Coop
Flies love moist environments. Keeping the coop and run dry will go a long way towards preventing an excess of flies. However, sometimes this can be difficult if Mother Nature has other plans.
To keep the coop dry, place the waterers outside the coop. Chickens don’t drink during the night, so there is no need to keep the water indoors.
Keeping waterers outside prevents the flock from accidentally knocking them over and adding more moisture to the coop.
If you aren’t using a droppings board, make sure you have plenty of litter in the coop to absorb odors and moisture. Add a new layer of bedding each week to freshen the area.
Plant Herbs and Flowers That Repel Flies
There are many herbs and flowers that can help repel flies in the chicken coop. Herbs include basil, rosemary, oregano, garlic, mint, lavender, and calendula.
Flowers that tend to repel flies include marigolds, nasturtiums, tansy, comfrey, and chrysanthemums.
You can plant a few herbs and flowers near your coop and run to discourage those pesky flies from hanging around.
Just be sure that you don’t plant anything near your coop that would be harmful to your chickens if they decide to take a bite.
Remove All Scraps & Treats
Most chicken keepers enjoy giving their flocks a few treats every now and then. Watermelon and cantaloupe rinds, strawberry hulls, and lettuce all make great treats for your chickens.
Unfortunately, flies like the treats too. Give your chickens the treat, then give them an hour or two to eat it. Afterward, remove all traces of anything they don’t eat to help control flies in the coop.
For instance, my flock loves watermelon rinds. They will eat the white part down to just the outer green shell. However, after they eat it down, we remove the remaining pieces and add them to the compost pile.
Use Moving Air to Control Flies
Another way to control pesky flies is to keep air moving in the coop. Your chicken coop should not be airtight anyway. Adequate ventilation is necessary in both the summer and the winter for the health of your chickens.
However, in the summer, open windows covered with hardware cloth can help create breezes throughout the coop that will keep the flies to a minimum. (It will help keep your chickens cool too!)
If the air is particularly stagnant, an oscillating fan can help create air movement. If using a fan, be sure to keep the speed low so that you aren’t stirring up dust that can harm your flock’s respiratory system.
You also need to be sure the fan is secure and won’t harm your flock in any way. And of course, you do need to have a power source in your coop to use this method.
Homemade Fly Spray With Herbs
A homemade fly spray is a great way to help cut down on the number of flies in the coop. While it won’t last but a few days, if you keep a bottle handy near the coop, you can do a quick spray down as you feed and collect the eggs each day.
To make a homemade fly spray, you need an herb or two. I usually use mint (since I have an abundance) or a combo of mint and lavender, but any combination of mint, lavender, basil, oregano, or rosemary will work well.
Boil 1 cup of packed fresh herb leaves in 1 cup of water. Allow to cool. Strain out the herbs.
Combine 1 cup of witch hazel and the herb-scented water in a spray bottle. Shake to mix. Spray liberally along the coop walls to help repel flies. It will need to be applied regularly for maximum protection.
You can also hang herbs in the coop and add some to the nest boxes.
Use Fly Traps
If the other methods have failed and you need some serious fly control, there are fly traps on the market you can purchase to control flies.
While I have not actually tried these, they get great reviews on Amazon. The one downside to them…they stink. Many people said that the reuseable ones stink so bad that they threw them away when they were full.
It is best if you place the fly traps at least 20 feet away from the house or the chicken coop because they actually lure the flies to the trap. They fly inside and die. The attractant is supposed to be non-toxic too.
But I don’t recommend using the sticky fly traps that you hang up unless you can be sure that they are very secure. You don’t want to accidentally walk into one and get the sticky all over you.
And your chickens can fly into them or they can fall and get sticky all over their feathers. And I can imagine that is a mess to clean up.
And I’ve noticed that the sticky traps can drip when the weather gets hot so the sticky gets everywhere. Yuck.
A Few Other Ways to Control Flies in the Chicken Coop
Keep your compost pile away from the coop. Compost can attract flies too so it is best to get it away from the coop.
I’ve heard that vanilla scented air fresheners can help. Apparently flies don’t like the smell of vanilla. Don’t use an artificially scented spray. It can be bad for your chicken’s lungs. (And yours too!) Use the kind of air fresheners you hang in the car. Please note that I have not tried this!
So while a few flies will probably always be around, there are many ways you can control and reduce the fly population around your chickens. And the less flies you have around, the better off you and your flock will be.