are flies bad for chickens

If you own backyard chickens you’ve definitely seen it at least once. You’re walking toward the coop and as soon as you get close enough the ground suddenly starts flying and buzzing, and that’s when you realize you have a fly problem. Flies can be a nuisance to us but they can also be a danger to your chickens, so it’s important to know how to repel them and keep more flies from popping up. Below is more information regarding flies and chickens, and you can always contact Brinsea, the Incubation Specialists, if you have any questions!

Why You Don’t Want Flies

To be clear, anytime we mention flies in this article we’re talking specifically about houseflies. There are some flies, such as soldier flies, that are beneficial to have around, but we’ll cover that later on. For now, let’s focus on why you don’t want flies around your coop. Aside from the obvious annoyance that flies cause, these pesky bugs can actually be dangerous for your chickens.

housefly

Chickens will eat pretty much anything they can get down their throat, and of course that includes flies and fly larvae. Eating houseflies, however, can cause your chickens to get tapeworms known as Choanotaenia infundibulum. This type of tapeworm can effectively starve your chickens of the nutrients they need in true parasitic fashion. Eating the larvae of the green bottlefly can cause botulism in chickens, so in general it’s better to err on the side of caution and keep the flies away.

How to Keep Flies Away

Considering the fact that flies like dirty, wet things and chickens are professionals at creating dirty, wet things, keeping flies away can feel like an uphill battle. Changing litter regularly, keeping the coop area clean, and providing proper ventilation are the most important steps. This will also help contribute to your flock’s overall health and hygiene.

Natural Solutions

Some natural solutions for flies include mixing diatomaceous earth in with fresh bedding and litter. Flies that come in contact with diatomaceous earth will eventually die of dehydration, so they typically try to avoid areas that have it.

Having a garden is not always possible with free-range chickens, but certain plants are able to efficiently repel flies. These plants (which are also beneficial for chickens) include lavender, rosemary, and mint. Always do your research before planting any fly-repelling herbs around your chickens to make sure they are safe. Some plants, like tansy, will repel flies but can also harm your chickens if consumed.

Insecticides

There are different kinds of insecticides you can use to kill flies or keep them away entirely, and it’s up to you how many chemicals you want around your chickens. Probably the safest option that doesn’t have a chance of contaminating feed or water would be fly traps and strips. These can be hung close by the coop in a place the chickens can’t get to, and they can help to cut down on the fly population. 

Other methods include sprays and larvicides that can stop the flies from coming around in the first place. These should always be used with care and should never be sprayed on birds or close to feed and water. 

Black Soldier Flies

Chickens love to eat flies, and as we mentioned above certain flies can be dangerous for them to consume. Black soldier flies, however, don’t carry any diseases and neither do their larvae. They also don’t sting, so you can safely have them around your chickens and yourself. These flies can also be beneficial for composting, which makes them a great addition to any backyard flock.

black soldier fly

The adult flies lay their eggs on decaying food, which would be your compost pile. The larvae and pupae are the most nutritious stage of the flies’ life, and your chickens will love them. The high nutritional content can help prevent feather loss and increase egg production, and eating these larvae is a great way for your chickens to fight boredom.

Contact Us

Preventing diseases is half the battle with a backyard flock. Keeping the bad flies and larvae away is a good step toward keeping your chickens healthy. For more information on incubating or keeping a backyard flock, feel free to get in touch with Brinsea. Call us at (888) 667-7009 or message us on Facebook or Instagram. We look forward to hearing from you!