Having backyard livestock is a joy, but it’s not all eggs and sunshine. Chickens, ducks and other backyard livestock can attract flies, mice, rats and other undesirable critters. The rodents love the free food, so keeping poultry feed in a hanging feeder off the ground can help. Dealing with flies, however, is a bit harder to control.
Disclaimer: Don’t read this post while eating your lunch.
Flies love manure and our chicken coop never has a short supply of that. We thoroughly clean the coop once a week, discarding all the bedding and replacing it with clean bedding. But still the flies are attracted to the area. The sight of them swarming along our side yard makes my stomach turn and a few always find their way into the house.
I should note that our poultry area is located really close to our house. There’s something to be said for it being tucked into a back corner – the flies likely won’t bother the house and noise from clucking hens will be quieter. But having their near the house makes egg collection easier, we enjoy watching them from the living room and we can also easily spot trouble in the coop, like water dishes that get tipped over.
There are a few organic ways to deal with flies. First, try sprinkling DE around the coop. That will dry out any fly eggs, helping to contain the population. It’s also a good general practice, as it keeps issues with mites and other pests to a minimum. It can be a good preventative measure, but once flies take hold you will likely need to do more to get the problem under control.
Since we already use DE regularly, but we’re still having fly issues, we’re using fly traps as well. This non-chemical method lures the flies into a plastic bag that you fill with water, which activates a stinky substance inside they are attracted to. The flies go in and can’t get out. When the bag is filled, you throw it away and start with a new one.
I hung one in the coop the other day and within a few hours we had customers. You can see in the photo above the top of the water line inside the bag with the stinky beige-colored scent attractor. About an hour later I took the photo below. You can’t see the water line anymore from the layers of flies already stuck in there – gross, gross, gross.
It’s been a few days now and I will spare you the latest photos. The bag is almost full – yikes! The instructions say to throw the whole bag away when it’s filled, and I remember thinking “how in the world could you fill a whole bag with flies?” Three days later, I know. Flies lay so many eggs, so quickly, that it may take a few bags to get the problem back under control. We’re hanging three bags in and near the coop. Less than a week into it, there is a noticeable drop in the number of swarming flies.
Backyard chickens are still a joy to have, but do require quick action when a problem starts to take hold. How about you – do you have backyard livestock? What are the less-than-ideal things that come along with that on your homestead? How have you fixed problems along the way? Tell me about it in the comments below!