If you’re wondering how to get rid of flies around your chicken coop, you probably aren’t alone.
Although the flies may not seem to bother your chickens all that much, they are bound to irritate and aggravate you to no end as you go about your daily chicken keeping chores.
Not only that, but flies can spread disease and lead to a whole host of other problems, too.
Ready to learn a few ways to get rid of flies in your chicken coop? Here are some of my favorite tips – as well as ways you can prevent flies in the future.
Like any other type of livestock, flies are an expected – though unwelcomed – nuisance around the chicken coop.
These pests thrive in warm and wet environments – particularly those that are riddled with manure.
The biggest challenge in dealing with flies in the chicken coop is that there are dozens of types of flies that might invade – and each species has different attractors and therefore, different treatments.
Chicken coops, like barns and other places where animals are housed, offer all kinds of food for flies to snack on. There is lots of manure and spilled feed, both of which flies will be more than happy to gorge themselves on.
Chicken coops also offer the ideal place for flies to breed. They like to lay their eggs in moist areas – and as you know, chicken coops tend to be moist all the time, especially after it has rained outside in the run or near the water fountain.
Here are some tips for getting rid of flies in your chicken coop – and to keep them out for the future.
Do your best to clean the coop as often as possible.
You might not be able to get around to a weekly cleaning (and especially not daily!) and that’s okay – but do the best you can. The more you can clean things up, the fewer flies you’ll have to deal with.
You can use the deep litter method to bed your coop if that’s what works well for you, but be sure to add more bedding regularly to keep things sanitary.
Another tip? When you clean, use apple cider vinegar. This is a great way to keep flies out and reduce the bad smells that come along with raising chickens in general.
A quick fix that many chicken keepers rely on to keep fly populations down is using droppings boards.
These collect all the droppings from beneath the roost (which will quickly become the messiest area of the coop, especially if your chickens are outside for most of the day) so you can easily scrape them out.
It takes less than a minute per day to keep this area of the coop clean – and you’d be amazed at how quickly the flies go away!
Flies thrive in high moisture areas, so do your best to keep things dry. Clean up spilled water and make sure your waterers aren’t leaking.
Use sand as litter whenever possible. Sand is much better at soaking up urine and coating droppings, helping to dry things out easily. It can not only reduce moisture but can also get rid of odors.
There are all sorts of plants that you can grow to repel flies, including herbs like rosemary, lavender, mint, and marigold. Your chickens may nibble on the plants, but these herbs are good for their health, anyway – so why not give it a try?
If you’re feeling really adventurous, you can even grow some carnivorous plants, like pitcher plants or Venus flytraps, around the coop. How fun would that be?
If the weather and your individual run and coop conditions permit it, think about taking the drinkers out of your coop.
Chickens don’t need to drink water at night, so as long as your animals are being let out of the coop during the day, you don’t need to keep waterers inside. Move them outside to the run and your chickens will be able to drink the water there.
While you’re in the process of revamping your watering systems, consider whether you might be able to switch to nipple drinkers instead. These are sanitary since they prevent the ability for manure to accumulate in the water trough.
You don’t have to feed your chickens snacks – they’ll get everything they need from a balanced feed and from free-ranging.
However, if you do decide to feed them a few treats, do your best to clean up each time you do. Limit treats to just a couple of tablespoons per bird and only every now and then.
And afterward, clean everything up. You may want to use a specialized tube for feeding treats, rather than just feeding them on the chicken coop floor.
If you must give snacks, stick to fruits and vegetables. Avoid things like dairy, meat, and cooked foods, since these will attract more flies than plain old produce.
Pooling water is a breeding ground for all kinds of pests, including flies.
Install drainage systems, level uneven surfaces where water tends to pool, and make sure you clean your gutters regularly. All of these can encourage flies.
Fly predators are small, nonstinging wasps that feed primarily on fly larvae. They won’t hatch and become adult flies!
Consider buying some of these fly predators online. You can release them, and they’ll feed on the flies on your property before they have a chance to wreak havoc.
One thing to keep in mind if you use beneficial insects – don’t release these too close to the coop. Your chickens would love to munch on them – they make tasty treats!
Therefore, if you decide to use them, sprinkle them outside so they don’t get gobbled up before they make a difference on fly populations.
Composting is a great way to cut down on waste and to create nutritious soil for your garden at the same time.
However, compost can become a breeding ground for flies if not tended to properly. You will want to take a few steps to make sure flies don’t take advantage of your noble composting efforts.
Dialing up the temperature in other ways can help repel flies, too. Flies like warm temperatures, but not hot ones. Cover your compost with black plastic in order to heat things up, and turn it regularly so it always stays cooking.
Move the compost as far away from your house and the chicken coop as you can. This can also help prevent flies from lingering where you don’t want them.
Consider adding a few fans to promote airflow inside the coop. The more airflow you have, the harder it is for flies to land – and the harder it will be for them to land and lay their eggs!
If your chicken coop isn’t already ventilated well, now is the time to upgrade. In addition to adding fans, make sure you don’t have too many stuffy areas in the coop. Installing things like windows and louvers can help.
Remember, ventilation is important during the summer, to prevent flies, as well as in the winter, to prevent ice and frostbite, too.
Straw poses lots of benefits as a bedding material – it’s cheap, lightweight, and easy to find.
However, it also has several disadvantages. For one, straw is not super absorbent. When it gets wet from water, droppings, or other material, it will decompose and attract flies. Use sand or another absorbent material instead.
There are several types of physical fly traps you can use, including inexpensive disposable traps. These are meant to be hung a few feet from the ground.
They can be annoying with that smell. However, if you place them in the right spot and choose the right product for your needs, you should see some results.
A surprising tool you can use to get rid of flies in the chicken coop is something you probably already have in your car – an air freshener!
Hanging air fresheners, particularly the vanilla-scented kind, are known to be super helpful when it comes to getting rid of flies.
Even if they don’t work at repelling the flies, hey! At least your coop will smell better, right?
It’s not a great idea to use pesticides around your chickens. Many chemicals have withdrawal times that can affect the food safety of the eggs and meat.
However, there are some that are approved for safe use around chickens.
One is Spinosad. This is the fermentation product of a basic type of bacteria. It controls all stages of mites as well as flies, beetles, and other pests.
You can use it to spray buildings or even directly on chickens themselves, if they’re suffering from parasite issues.
Diatomaceous earth is a true panacea when it comes to getting rid of pests of all kinds – including flies. It is the ground-up remnants of fossilized creatures – and although this powder is kryptonite to flies, it isn’t harmful to humans or animals in the slightest.
You can sprinkle it in the coop bedding or even directly in the dust bath. It works by drying out insects and killing them quickly. Just make sure you use food-grade diatomaceous earth and wear a mask when you sprinkle it – the dust can cause some lung irritation.
Some people say that this is an old wives’ tale, but it’s something I’ve seen some limited success with.
Hanging a few gallon-sized Ziploc bags that are half-filled with water (and a couple of pennies!) near the entrances to the coop is hugely helpful at repelling flies in a natural way.
There are plenty of essential oils you can use to repel flies, too.
Some good options include rosemary, dill, basil, spearmint, peppermint, lavender, geranium, thyme, citronella, lemongrass, wild orange, and lemon.
Even if they don’t work to get rid of the flies, at least your coop will smell better, right?
These might not be the most attractive solutions to your fly problems, but they are popular products in the store for a reason!
Hang a few fly strips and some fly tape in the coop. Make sure you apply them out of reach of your chickens and voila. Flies are gone!
There are some breeds of ducks that will not only eat flies – but also, their larvae. If you have lots of standing water on your property, ducks can be helpful to get rid of flies along with other buzzing insects that can wreak havoc on you, like mosquitoes.
The more you let manure build up in one place, the more likely you are to have problems with flies.
Consider using chicken tractors, or moveable pens, that will allow you to till your garden, fertilize then oil, and give your chickens access to fresh pasture every day:
It’s a much healthier lifestyle for your chickens and it also reduces the ability for fly populations to proliferate. Gone are the stinky piles of manure that attract flies!
Doing your best to get rid of mud is also essential in limiting flies. The more mud you have, the more places you have for flies to lay their eggs.
Many people rely on fly sprays for their fly problems in the chicken coop. These do work, in most cases – but some aren’t always safe for chickens.
Consider using a homemade fly spray with natural essential oils or diatomaceous earth before you turn to commercial, chemical-based fly spray products.
That way, you can be sure that your chickens aren’t going to be harmed by your applications.
There are lots of reasons to get rid of the flies that are plaguing your chicken coop.
Flies can carry all kinds of diseases to your chickens, including salmonella and campylobacter. They can also carry the bacteria clostridium botulinum, which can cause botulism.
Chickens can also get flystrike, which occurs when the flies lay their eggs on the chickens and the maggots eat the chicken alive.
Not pleasant, to say the least – and let’s not forget that flies, left uncontrolled, will easily spread to your home and the surrounding area, too.
With that said, getting rid of flies in (and keeping them out of) the chicken coop isn’t too challenging when you keep the tips above in mind. Give it a try – and shoot those flies out for good!
Rebekah is a high-school English teacher n New York, where she lives on a 22 acre homestead. She raises and grows chickens, bees, and veggies such as zucchini (among other things).