Keeping backyard chickens is a rewarding experience. I have very few complaints when it comes to taking care of my ladies. I love the peace they bring me with their scratching about in the yard. The eggs are top notch and the education that keeping chickens has brought to my family is priceless. However, this time of year, there is a buzzing little nemesis that pokes around my tranquil small town backyard. Flies.
They are the argument that many nay-sayers to backyard chicken keepers use to fight backyard chickens. Flies can be a nuisance, but they don’t have to be with a few simple tips and a homemade fly spray.
Flies are attracted to moisture, poop and feed. All things that can be found in a chicken keeping yard. To combat this, it is essential to keep the litter that you choose to use in your coop dry. Adding fresh chips, pine needles, straw or sand to your coop will cut down the fly problem and help to keep your ladies happy and healthy.
Poop, it happens… wakka wakka. Kidding aside, poop is inevitable when raising chickens. I am a believer in the deep litter method. We use the nitrogen rich droppings to break down the litter as well as to heat and enrich our compost pile. In my chicken keeping situation, I have 5 laying hens. The poop is not overwhelming by any means, but could get out of hand if left to fester. That is something we do not want to do, as it is not good for the birds and will bring flies to your yard. Raking and tilling your chicken run will also help to deter flies.
Food attracts flies also. Chicken feed itself, has not been a draw for flies in my experience, but the fun chicken treats that I like to share with my girls can be. It is important to clean up the scraps that your chickens do not eat. Melon rinds is just an example of scraps that need to be picked up to minimize flies in your yard.
Finally, I use an all natural, homemade fly spray to help keep flies down inside my coop and run area. I do not want to spray the chemical laden store bought spray in my small coop. Instead, I came up with a recipe for a spray that has helped to keep the coop fresh smelling as well as deter flies.
This recipe uses vinegar and essential oils to deter flies in your coop.
What you will need:
- 1 Spray Bottle (Mine is 12 ounces)
- 2/3 Cup of White Vinegar
- 1 3/4 Cup of Water
- 10 Drops of Tea Tree Essential Oil (Melaleuca)
- 10 Drops of Lavender Essential Oil
Combine the water and vinegar in a spray bottle. Next, add the essential oils into the mixture. Shake well and spray on the mist setting. Be sure to shake well before each use.
Essential Oils, therapeutic grade, can be a great addition to your chicken keeping arsenal of tools. They can be costly, however, I have found that the better the oil, the less you use. The oils store well and keep for a long time.
I have used this spray for over a year and have had no adverse side effects in my birds. To treat my coop, I mist the walls and nesting boxes. I spray the outside of the coop as well. The fine mist of the spray bottle is enough to diffuse the oils and vinegar around the coop deterring flies, while not soaking the bedding in your coop. This spray does not contain chemicals and will not last for days. Instead, I make it a part of my watering routine. When I go out to freshen up the water for the ladies, I bring my spray bottle and mist around in the coop. I have found that the spray does not kill the flies, but instead deters and lessens them. From problem levels to not really many at all.
With these tips and your trusty fly spray, your neighbors will love that you are controlling the flies that could be a problem. Your ladies will appreciate the cleanliness of your coop and run. Rewards are eggs and happy chickens. Those are all things that can not be beat in my book.