Flies like poo. Chickens contribute lots of that. Therefore, it stands to reason that anywhere there are chickens, there’s bound to be flies. Flies also like moist, leftover food (the kind thrown in the compost bin regularly). Combine chickens and compost together and you’re liable to be in a big mess before you know it.
Flies are nasty things. They spread disease and can even lay their eggs inside chickens causing eventual death. Not to mention having your city house clouded with flies isn’t a good way to keep peace with the neighbors.
There are ways to keep fly control in check, however, so don’t despair if it looks like the flies are getting the best of your backyard. Here are some simple solutions to discouraging the flies from taking up residence in your backyard:
- Keep the coop and run clean. The less poo there is, the less attraction there is for flies to visit.
- Regularly apply a layer of straw to your chicken run and area around the coop.
- Pick up the leftover rinds, pits and other food scraps you feed your chickens after they’re done eating.
- If you have a poopy butted chicken, clean them up.
- Apply dry things (leaves, straw, etc.) to your compost bin regularly to balance out the more moist stuff.
Besides these preventive measures, there are also fly catching techniques to help trap and kill flies the chicken yard (or anywhere else for that matter). I’ve tried some, read about others, and have a list for you below.
This year I decided to try essential oils for fly control. Of course I couldn’t just hang a simple piece of felt, wool or fabric. No. I made felt chickens instead.
First, I created a cardboard form, then used that form to trace two felt shapes and glued them all together (placing the cardboard in between the two pieces of felt for support). I used a hole punch to create a string hanger, and some googly eyes, just because I had some in the craft box. The key to this whole thing is adding several drops of both lavender and TerraShield essential oils (TerraShield is a blend of essential oils formulated to repel bugs).
I placed these homemade fly repellors throughout the coop and run (in covered areas—one good rain would probably have them falling apart). I also used some ‘yarn’ I made from t-shirts and cut lengths of it, soaked it in the above oil combination and hung them around the chicken yard. It’s greatly helped in cutting down fly activity that was still going on, even after faithfully adhering to all the upkeep to help keep flies from coming around to begin with.
The only down side, if there is one, is that you have to re-apply the oils every so often (but boy does it smell good out in the chicken area these days!)
Here are some other ideas to help you along:
- I’ve heard from several places that a few SHINY pennies in a baggie of water, taped over doorways detract flies (who think the pennies are dragonflies, a dreaded enemy). I haven’t used this at my coop because you need sunshine to reflect off the pennies and my coop only gets morning sun—otherwise it’s shaded under several big trees for the rest of the day.
- A Disposable Fly Trap. I’ve used these and they work. Simply fill up the bag with water and the stuff they put inside creates a smell that attracts flies (it’s stinky though, so don’t hang it close to the house, or down wind from where you hang out). It catches flies by the dozens.
- Make your own trap similar to the one above using a 2 liter soda bottle or water bottle or other plastic bottle that you can cut up.
The bottom line is that just because you’ve got chickens doesn’t mean you have to have flies. It takes some consistent upkeep to keep them at bay, but it’s completely do-able. And totally worth the effort. For both you and your flock.