When keeping chickens or other animals, flies are an expected nuisance, and steps should be taken to reduce the overall fly population to limit the risks of disease they carry. Flies thrive in warm, moist, “fragrant” environments and different types of flies require different elimination tactics, making a multi-pronged strategy necessary. So…let’s roll one out!1. Remove the Poop: Promptly remove nightly droppings from the chicken coop. A droppings board is the best solution to this stinky fly attractant and it takes less than a minute daily to scrape it down & add the manure to the compost pile.
2. Sand for the Driest Coop Possible: Use sand as chicken coop litter and run ground cover. Sand coats droppings and dries them out, reducing odors and moisture simultaneously.
3. Plant Warfare:
- Grow some carniverous plants that eat flies.
- While planting herbs around the coop makes for lovely landscaping, herbs like lavender, mint and rosemary do not repel flies, mosquitoes, mites or lice.
You can see from these photos that my mint, basil and thyme flourish in my chicken yard- my chickens don’t eat them..
4. Spice it Up: Herb it up is closer to the point: add herbs to your chicken coop- fresh or dried. I make Spruce the Coop Herbal Fusion comprised of many aromatic herbs and sprinkle it in the nest boxes and coop. They can’t hurt and a limited population of easily offended insects may find them offensive, but don’t bet on it.
5. Clean Up After Snack Time: When giving chickens sweet treats, especially when trying to help them beat the summer heat, don’t leave sticky, sweet remnants behind that will attract flies. Clean up the rinds & compost them.
6. Keep it Dry: Eliminate stagnant, warm, pooling water, which serves as breeding grounds for flies. Install drainage where necessary. See #1: Remove the poop!
7. Employ Insects: Fly Predators are tiny, non-stinging wasps that eat fly larva so they have no chance of hatching & becoming adult pests. The challenge with Fly Predators is that chickens love eating them, so they must be strategically placed.
8. Compost manure vertically instead of horizontally in a wide pile. This increases the compost temperature, expedites decomposition and minimizes the amount of surface area exposed and fly-attracting odors.
9. Dial up Compost Temperature: Cover compost with black plastic sheeting to increase the temperature inside the pile. Flies like it warm, not hot. Turning the pile also keeps the pile cooking because the process requires oxygen.
10. Keep It Moving: Install fans to promote airflow inside the coop. It’s tough to fly with a lot of air turbulence.
11. Relocate the Compost Pile: Locate compost pile as far away from the chicken coop and chicken yard as practical.
12. Eliminate Dirty, Wet Hay: Either compost soiled hay or spread it out on the ground on a sunny day to dry it out (moisture+ smell=fly attractant).
13. Vanilla scented air fresheners. Some chicken-keepers swear by them. Read more about using them here.
14. Fly traps. Each type of physical fly trap has its drawbacks: some are stinky, nasty to look at and some are costly, but most are effective to varying degrees.
- The type of inexpensive, disposable trap shown below should be hung no higher than four feet from the ground. They’re stinky, but they work.
- The Epps Biting Fly Trap attracts flies that bonk into the unit, fall into soapy water and drown. My neighbor has been using hers for years and can’t say enough good things about it. A visit to her chickens and horses is remarkably fly-free. You can see my neighbor’s Epps unit in this photo behind Scooby, the white horse enjoying a dust bath.
15. Spinosad the Coop
My treatment of choice for flies, lice and mites is veterinarian recommended Elector® PSP (the active ingredient is Spinosad). “Spinosad (fermentation product of Saccharopolyspora (a type of bacteria). Single use controls all stages of mites. Also kills flies, beetles, agricultural insect pests. Can be used directly on laying hens and to spray buildings.”citation Elector PSP has no withdrawal period and can be used safely with chickens inside the coop. Spray in a clean coop at the rate of 1 ounce per 5 gallons of water. Learn more about the use of Elector PSP here and here