What To Do In Your Coop In July

What To Do In Your Coop In July

It’s July, and the middle of summer comes with it’s own special chores. Here’s what to do in your coop in July so you raise a healthy flock of hens, ducks, geese, and more!

 

Keep out pests with herbs and spices

Use cinnamon, peppermint, wormwood, and other herbs to prevent pests. You can also use a blend such as PestsBGone.

 

THOROUGHLY CHECK ALL FLOCK MEMBERS FOR SIGNS OF FLY STRIKE!!

Fly strike can be (and often is) deadly, but you might be able to prevent it if you’re vigilant. If your hens have any cuts or abrasions, be sure to clean the wound thoroughly DAILY and cover if possible.

 

If it looks like your chicken or duck is excessively bothered by flies, bring him or her inside, clean the wound (get a vet’s advice if you see maggots at all) and keep her inside until the wound is healed.

 

If you have roosters and/or drakes, be sure to check the bellies of your hens for cuts. If your hens have bare skin on their bellies, consider isolating them from the roosters.

 

Clean coop thoroughly to keep out flying pests.

Daily is best to reduce flies. Sweep out old bedding and sprinkle with an all natural coop refresher to reduce ammonia.

 

Clean out nesting boxes

Clean nesting boxes to reduce the fly population. If broody hens are sitting on eggs, don’t clean the nesting boxes, but apply herbs to try to freshen. You don’t want to disturb the hen and accidentally cause her to abandon her nest.

 

hens in nesting boxes

Use fans to try to increase circulation in very hot coops

If possible, use a fan in the coop. Be sure it can’t be knocked over, and that it has a safety cover.

 

Check on chickens regularly throughout very hot days for possibility of heat stroke and provide extra ice water if needed.

Heat stroke can creep up suddenly. If your hens seem disoriented, are laying down and won’t get up, or suddenly can’t walk, they might be heat stressed. Try to prevent heat stress by providing ice water and lots of shade.

 

Make frozen treats out of beef tallow or other solid fat with a high smoke point

Use frozen peas, corn, or other treats to entice your hens to eat the frozen treat. Beef tallow treats don’t melt easily, and chickens love the taste.

 

Create extra shade in the run with tarps, wood, etc to prevent heat stroke

It looks ugly, but it might save a life.

 

Fill nesting boxes with extra herbs (such as Scent of Spring) to promote egg laying

Your chickens might need extra support in the summer heat. Nesting herbs also provide a healthy living environment.

 

Provide an extra calcium supplement such as oyster shells, dried eggshells, or Best Eggs Ever Nesting Herbs!

In addition to extra nutrients (see above) your chickens might need extra calcium to lay eggs.

 

Add electrolytes to water on very hot days & thoroughly clean waterers that are dirty.

Electrolytes might help your hens avoid heat stress, and they’re easily administered in water. You can find electrolytes in your local farm store.

 

Keep chicks in shade as much as possible

Chicks especially are vulnerable to heat stroke. Place chicks in an area that’s always out of direct sun, and provide water with electrolytes.

 

For ducks, provide a pool or flood part of the run so they have a cool place to lay down

You can do this for chickens, also! You’ll notice your ducks laying down to keep cool. If you can flood an area under a tree or other shade, that’s even better.

Get Rid Of Flies In Your Chicken Coop For Happier Hens!

Get Rid Of Flies In Your Chicken Coop For Happier Hens!

Get rid of flies in your chicken coop this summer before life gets too buggy.

 

We’ve got our fly control situation in full gear (hot Southern summers!). 

 

With the amount of manure we have on our farm (with horses, pigs, goats, and rabbits in addition to our chickens), to say we have a LOT of manure is something of an understatement.

 

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.

 

Studies show that if you get rid of flies in your chicken coop, Campylobacter is less likely to spread, keeping you, your family, and your flock healthier. 

 

Luckily, keeping flies away from your chicken coop is easier than it seems as long as you follow a few critical steps. 

 

While there’s 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 that critical first step, you’re just managing a situation that will eventually overwhelm you. You also might need to use more than one idea on this list—I’ve found preventing flies from returning takes a couple different plans of attack.

 

That being said, here’s ideas to get you started to get rid of flies in your chicken coop!

 

Keep your chicken coop clean

 

Keeping your flock’s home clean will go a long way to helping you get rid of flies in your chicken coop.

 

Flies like manure, muck, food, 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.

 

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.

 

Wear rubber gloves, because this step can get kind of messy and with all the bacteria in your chickens’ digestive systems, you don’t want it getting on you.

 

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 in this case to get rid of flies in your chicken coop.

 

Make sure, as well, that you’re removing old feed, since food attracts flies.

 

One study showed that flies might transmit avian flu, get rid of flies in your chicken coop to keep your flock healthy.

 

Use all-natural fly repellent

Repellent is a pretty no-brainer way to get rid of flies in your chicken coop, but going all-natural is again your best option.

 

You’ve taken all these steps to limit your flock’s chemical exposure already. Don’t drop the ball at the last minute and go with something laden with them.

 

Making your own natural fly repellents is easy. Consider using mint or calendula essential oils, which are said to repel insects.

 

 

After formulating your repellent, spray in your chicken coop daily or as needed.

 

 

Fly strips

 

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 on up, within minutes, flies have found their way onto them.

 

The problem with strips is if you have a lot of chickens, they probably won’t be able to keep up with the amount 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 relied on as a sole strategy.

 

what herbs can chickens eat content upgrade-min

Use herbs like mint and marigold

 

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 herbs known to fight off the mighty fly.

 

You can hang dried or fresh herbs in your coop as part of an overall pest control plan.

 

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 also incorporate live marigold and mint plants around your chicken coop.

 

It’s a nice way to upgrade your chicken coop area as well as reduce the fly population.

 

 

Fly predators

 

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.

 

Click here to see an example.

 

Make sure your chicken coop has good ventilation and add air flow

 

Consistent air flow 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

 

Diatomaceous earth works by cutting through the exoskeletons on insects, and 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.

 

Chickens

 

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

 

Traps work relatively well killing adult flies.

 

But there’s a couple 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 ungodly 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’s other options I prefer to try first.

 

I’d like to hear from you!

 

Do you have any ideas to get rid of flies in your chicken coop that I missed? Leave a comment below!

6 All-Natural Ways To Keep Flies, Gnats, And Mosquitoes Off Your Chickens

6 All-Natural Ways To Keep Flies, Gnats, And Mosquitoes Off Your Chickens

Nothing is worse than being bothered by flying pests. It can make life miserable for you….and your chickens! That’s why this article is about my top 6 ways to keep flies, gnats, and mosquitoes off your chickens so you AND they can enjoy time outside!

 

It’s just starting to be summer on the farm, which means it’s time for the flying insects to make their grand entrance into the world.

 

I’ve shown you how to keep flies out of your coop, but as your flock plays in their run or tractor, or free ranges, you might notice them shaking their heads quite a bit and looking somewhat miserable, particularly on humid days.

 

You might even hear some annoyed clucks and squawks.

 

It’s possible your flock is being annoyed by gnats, flies, mosquitoes, no see ums, and the like – and it can have an impact on their health.

Ways To Keep Flies, Gnats, And Mosquitoes Off Your Chickens

Why flying insects can cause health problems in your backyard chickens

Think about it – if you’re trying to forever keep insects from bugging you, you’re not eating, drinking, and enjoying life.

 

The extra energy spent constantly moving to keep bugs off also can cause your chickens to lose weight and experience heat stress since they’re physically uncomfortable.

 

Flies and mosquitoes also harbor diseases and bacteria, which can effect the health of your flock. And yes, they WILL bite your chickens.

 

So, in this article, I’ll show you 6 different ways you can keep flying insects off your hens!

 

Ways To Keep Flies, Gnats, And Mosquitoes Off Your Chickens

Citronella plants

Citronella is safe for chickens, and I’m sure I don’t have to tell you how great it is at keeping bugs away – particularly mosquitoes.

 

Each year about this time, I put a few potted citronella plants in the coop. They look great, keep the air smelling fresh, and help keep mosquitoes from bothering the hens.

 

You can also use fresh citronella in nesting boxes (see below for more herbal nesting box options), which might prevent them from getting heat stress and laying abnormal eggs.

 

Just be sure to clean your nesting boxes 3-4 times a week if you’re using fresh herbs.

 

Lemongrass in nesting boxes

Lemongrass and citronella are related, and both contain the chemical constituent that does such a great job keeping us bug free during the summer.

 

I have not found the citronella plant as a dried herb, so I use lemongrass in my flock’s nesting boxes to give them extra protection while they lay eggs.

 

I’ve noticed that when the hens sit still to lay their eggs, they’re way more prone to being irritated by gnats, mosquitoes, and flies – which can make it pretty difficult to get those butt nuggets out easily.

 

Imagine trying to give birth while having a mosquito buzzing around your head. No fun.

 

We carry dried lemongrass in the store here and it’s also a main ingredient in PestsBGone, which I developed specifically to keep pests away in coops.

 

Both of these are the same herbs I use in my own backyard chicken flock’s nesting boxes so they’re happy and lay great eggs.


Worried about pests in your coop??

MitesBGone Nesting Herbs can keep mites, lice & other creepy crawlies away.

YES! I want to keep mites & other parasites out of my nesting boxes!!


Dried Lemon Balm in nesting boxes & feed and fresh potted plants

Lemon balm also contains citronella, and can be mixed in feed and nesting boxes.

 

We grow it every year in our garden, and for us, it’s a perennial. So, we have a constant supply of fresh lemon balm to hang in the coop or mix into the nesting boxes.

 

You can also tear fresh lemon balm to release the essential oils and rub them on your flock’s combs, wattles, legs, and other areas that seem bothered by insects.

 

You can buy started lemon balm at your local big box store and replant into pots. If you want to use dried lemon balm (it smells GREAT and the essential oils are concentrated), you can find it in my store right here.

 

You can also mix dried lemon balm into your flock’s feed – they love the fresh taste and picking at the herbs.

 

dried lemon balm Ways To Keep Flies, Gnats, And Mosquitoes Off Your Chickens

 

Citronella essential oil mixed with carrier oil

Not everyone wants to use essential oils on their chickens – and that’s fine.

 

If you DO use oils on your flock, citronella essential oil is GREAT to quickly apply to your flock if they’re REALLY bothered by gnats, flies, mosquitoes, etc and are completely miserable.

 

This time of year, I usually have a few hens who seem especially bothered, and they seem much relieved after applying citronella oil.

 

You can mix 1 drop of citronella essential oil with 1 tablespoon of carrier oil such as coconut oil, cocoa butter, mango butter, etc and apply the mixture to combs, wattles, etc to keep the bugs at bay.

 

If essential oils aren’t your thing, you can combine citronella, dried lemongrass, or dried lemon balm with olive oil, allow to steep for 2-4 weeks so the olive oil absorbs the essential oils from the plants, and then apply as needed.

 

I avoid essential oils altogether with chicks, and opt for simply keeping fresh or dried herbs around them to prevent pests.

 

Peppermint coop spray & fly spray for chickens

I cover how to make peppermint coop spray here and natural fly repellent here, and they’re both a great option to keep flies, etc away. Please note that these sprays aren’t meant to be sprayed ON your chickens – just around the coop.

 

I have a recipe below that you can use ON your chickens.

 

Flying insects hate peppermint, although I would also add something like citronella or lemon balm to get a double (or triple) punch. I’m not convinced peppermint is as effective as plants containing citronella when it comes to flying insects (for mites, etc, peppermint is GREAT).

 

If you plan to spray your flock to keep bugs away, consider steeping peppermint with lemongrass in hot water. Allow to cool, then gently mist by spraying the mixture up towards the sky, allowing the mist to fall down.

 

Don’t drench your chickens – you’re not looking to give them a bath. Just mist them a bit, making sure to avoid eyes, ears, nostrils, etc.

 

If they’re particularly bothered in those areas, you can squirt your fingers and gently apply by rubbing your fingers AROUND those areas – not in or on them.


With eyes, if I need to apply around the eyes, I only apply UNDER the eyes to avoid any drips that might harm their eyeballs.

 

I do the same with other species, especially those that physically sweat such as horses – you don’t want anything entering their eyes and potentially causing problems.

 

This is assuming the day is warm enough for it – if the temperature is cool in your area, try a different way I’ve mentioned in this article to keep flies, gnats, and mosquitoes away.

 

We’ve found this to work to provide some relief during particularly muggy & buggy days.

 

As above, I avoid spraying chicks at all and opt to keep fresh or dried herbs around them to keep them bug free.

Marigolds

Marigolds (not calendula, which are great flowers to feed your backyard chicken flock for golden yolks, but regular marigolds you find at your local farm store in early spring) are the go-to for gardeners to keep pests out of the garden, and it’ll work for your coop also.

 

We love putting marigolds in window boxes, hanging them around the coop, placing the petals in nesting boxes, etc to provide relief and help keep our hens comfortable.

 

They’re safe for backyard chickens, and it’s best to put any fresh flowers or herbs we discussed in this article at the same level as your flock.

 

But if you find your hens stripping off the petals, put the marigolds out of reach so they can still do their job or give your flock something tastier to rip apart.

 

The pretty color of marigolds brightens the interior of the coop and nesting boxes. Just be sure to clean your nesting boxes regularly, and keep watch for any potential external parasites such as chicken mites.

 

I hope these ideas give you some ways to keep flies, gnats, and mosquitoes off your chickens so they – and you – can enjoy the warm weather!

The Best All-Natural Bug Spray Using Essential Oils!

The Best All-Natural Bug Spray Using Essential Oils!

Bug season is upon us….and when you have as many animals as we do, you have a LOT of flies!

 

I used to buy store-bought bug sprays, but after many years working at the FDA, I know what’s in them…and there’s natural options I prefer to use, especially on my kids.

 

(A lot of you have asked about which oils I personally use. Here’s everything you need to know!)

 

So, I’m going to show you how to use essential oils to make a safe, non-toxic bug spray that’s worked for us. 

 

There’s a couple variations depending on the scents you like best. I personally prefer to go with Lemongrass but you can switch it out with Lavender or any other scent you like.

 

The only thing to remember is that if you want to use a citrus scent, the oils can make you more photo-sensitive. So just keep that in mind before you use them!

 

You CAN leave oils for scent out, but I’ve found that Eucalyptus can sometimes smell medicinal….so if you’re sensitive to those smells or your kids object, consider adding something like Lavender.

 

The Eucalyptus and Peppermint do a great job at deterring flies and no-see-ums. We have one horse that’s particularly sensitive to no-see-ums, and he seems much more comfortable after an application.

 

How to Make A Non-Toxic Bug Spray With Essential Oils

 

For an easy to make all natural, non-toxic bug spray here’s what you can use:

 

  • 10 drops Lemongrass or Lavender for scent
  • 10 drops Eucalyptus
  • 10 drops Peppermint

 

Slowly drip each oil into a 10mL roller bottle (this is the brand I buy) and top with a carrier oil such as fractionated coconut oil, almond oil, or avocado oil.

 

The roller bottle makes it super simple to apply to your body, and you can feel confident knowing that it’s totally safe for your kids.

 

Before going outside, simply roll the bug spray onto your neck, arms and legs.

 

This recipe also works as a spray for animals. You can mix it with 8 ounces of water and pour into a spray bottle. Just be sure to shake and mix before using for the best results.

 

You can spray it in your chicken coop to deter flies, however, I don’t recommend using it ON your chickens.

 

There you have it! A simple and easy bug spray you can make again and again in your own home!

 

(Ready to grab some essential oils so you can get bugs out of your life for good? Here’s everything you need to know!)