Get rid of flies in your chicken coop this summer before life gets too buggy.
To say we have a LOT of manure is somewhat of an understatement. With the amount of animal poo we have on our farm (with horses, pigs, goats, and rabbits in addition to our chickens), we are set for life. And a lot of manure equals a lot of flies.
The key to getting rid of flies, I’ve found, is to try to stop them from breeding. While you’re never going to get rid of ALL of them, you can do a good job decreasing the population, especially if you have just a few chickens.
Luckily, keeping flies away from your chicken coop is easier than it seems as long as you follow a few critical steps.
You also might need to use more than one idea on this list—I’ve found preventing flies from returning takes a couple of different plans of attack.
That being said, here are ideas to get you started. Go get rid of flies in your chicken coop!
Table of Contents (Quickly Jump To Information)
Keep your chicken coop clean
While there are a lot of ideas in this article, I think the basis of any program to control flies is to start with a clean chicken coop. Without this critical first step, you’re just managing a situation that will eventually overwhelm you.
Flies like poop, muck, food, broken eggs, and whatever else they can find in chicken coops. If you make sure your hens’ home is relatively manure and crud-free, less flies will be attracted to it.
To clean your chicken coop, you can use a rake to remove soiled bedding, old hay from nesting boxes, etc. Sweep out whatever debris is left. Put all of the chicken litter in a compost pile that is set apart from your chicken coop. If you have the ability to have a covered composting system, that will also help reduce flies.
Next, use plain water or water and citrus vinegar mixture with a scrub brush to get rid of any manure that might be hanging around your chicken coop. Do not the area really wet as moisture breeds bacteria.
Finally, top everything off with a mint essential oil spray to kill bacteria and repel flies.
When cleaning your chicken coop, do not use bleach at all. Bleach combined with the ammonia from their manure can create poisonous fumes. All natural is best to get rid of flies in your chicken coop.
All-natural fly repellent
Repellent is a no-brainer way to get rid of flies in your chicken coop, but going all-natural is, again, your best option.
You’ve already taken all these steps to limit your flock’s chemical exposure. Don’t drop the ball at the last minute and go with something laden with them.
After formulating your repellent, spray in your chicken coop daily or as needed. Many of the recipes call for oil, such as essential oils and mineral oil, and I will warn you that oil can clog up the average spray bottle. You will need to invest in a high-quality spray bottle that can handle the oil.
Strips are a non-invasive method that works well to get rid of flies in your chicken coop.
We use them in our house, and as soon as we put them up, within minutes, flies have found their way to them.
The problem with strips is if you have a lot of chickens, they probably won’t be able to keep up with the number of flies. If you only have 4 or 5 chickens, however, and your coop is otherwise clean, then you can give them a try.
Just remember that fly strips can’t really take the place of a clean chicken coop. So, they’re best used as part of an overall pest control plan, rather than as a sole strategy.
Certain herbs are known to be pest repellents, and might help get rid of flies in your chicken coop. Mint and calendula (marigold) are two of many herbs known to fight off the mighty fly.
They also have an added benefit: they’re very good for your hens, so if your flock decides to snack on them, so much the better.
You can hang dried or fresh herbs in your coop as part of an overall pest control plan. You can also incorporate live marigold and mint plants around your chicken coop.
There are many recipes online that incorporate a whole host of other herbs – everything from basil to lavender, thyme, and rosemary, plus citronella and lemongrass.
It’s a nice way to upgrade your chicken coop area AND reduce the fly population.
We believe in herbs for pest control so much that we started making our own blends, and then people started asking for them. You can find them at our store here if you aren’t in the mood for hunting all the herbs down and figuring out the best recipes.
You might also want to give Cleanest Coop Ever a try. It’s full of all the fly-repelling goodies!
Fly predators are gaining popularity, and we’ve used them around our horses in the past. These are live insects that feed on larvae to interrupt the breeding cycle of flies.
You do need to use them monthly, but you can find 5,000 predators for about $20.
While they’re effective, if you live near other farms that don’t use them (such as large dairy farms or farms that don’t exercise any fly control), they’re less effective.
They’re more expensive than other options to get rid of flies in your chicken coop, but not outrageously expensive.
Consistent airflow is one way to reduce the fly population in your chicken coop, and although it’s simple, it’s quite effective.
If there are open windows on either side of your coop, then a strong cross breeze will keep flies away.
Another option, if your chicken coop has electricity, is to use a fan.
Make sure you use a gentle circulating fan rather than a large industrial one to ensure your chickens don’t accidentally get injured.
While any fan can obviously hurt them if they try hard enough, a fan with a safety grate with ¼” openings or smaller will work fine.
Diatomaceous earth works by cutting through the exoskeletons on insects, so it can help reduce the flies in your coop.
When your hens are out of the chicken coop for a while, sprinkle the DE around lightly. Remember that it can be caustic if inhaled, so wear a safety mask.
It won’t work immediately—DE takes a while to get into the flies’ bodies, but it works against larvae as well.
You can also provide an inviting place for your hens to take dust baths. But not just ANY dust baths – you can use herbal blends specifically formulated to repel pests. Here is one of my favorites.
Your chickens themselves are a good way to control flies.
On our farm, we have 8 horses, and few flies comparatively because the chickens hunt the larvae and keep the population under control.
In fact, we have several chickens whose entire existence is about keeping the flies down.
A word about traps
A fly trap works relatively well killing adult flies. But there are a couple of caveats that I should mention.
The first is that you’re only killing adults—not getting rid of the larvae. So you’re reacting to all the bugs in the coop, and not hitting them where it matters.
The other thing about traps is after a while, they smell disgusting.
To this day, I cannot walk by one without wanting to vomit. Particularly if you’re pregnant, avoid using traps, and opt for a different solution. You’ll thank me.
So, if traps work for you, then go for it, but there are other options I prefer to try first.
Flies are gross and can carry disease and bacteria, true. But they, and their larvae, can actually be good for chickens to eat. So it’s best to try and get rid of flies in your chicken coop – first by having a really clean coop, and then by using some of the other preventative measures. Any little annoying flies (or their larvae) that remain, might just be a good snack for your flock.
Maat van Uitert is a backyard chicken and sustainable living expert. She is also the author of Chickens: Naturally Raising A Sustainable Flock, which was a best seller in it’s Amazon category. Maat has been featured on NBC, CBS, AOL Finance, Community Chickens, the Huffington Post, Chickens magazine, Backyard Poultry, and Countryside Magazine. She lives on her farm in Southeast Missouri with her husband, two children, and about a million chickens and ducks. You can follow Maat on Facebook here and Instagram here.