When keeping chickens or other animals, flies are an expected nuisance, but there are steps that can be taken to reduce the overall fly population, thereby limiting 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:
- Plant herbs around your coop and yard. Basil, lavender, mint and rosemary are all natural fly repellents.
- Grow some carniverous plants that eat flies.
I put fresh stalks of rosemary inside my chicken coop during the growing season.
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!
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.