Summer is prime time for flies. They love the warm, humid weather, and they love our chicken’s poop! But the last thing we want is the irritation or disease that flies can cause our flock. We could spray the coop area with chemicals, but that’s not healthy for us or our flock. If flies are a problem in your coop, the following methods can used as part of an integrated pest control program.
The most effective way to control flies is to clean your coop regularly and keep it dry. You can break the life cycle of flies by changing bedding weekly. Check for water leaks, not only in the coop roof and walls, but in waterers. Allow for good air circulation so that manure can dry quickly.
Sticky traps (roll, sheet or tape), light traps and baited traps can be extremely effective in controlling adult files.
Vanilla scented air fresheners. Are you in the Backyard Chickens facebook group? It’s a community of over 66,000 backyard chickens enthusiasts. Members have been posting about the effectiveness specifically of Little Trees™ Vanilla air fresheners in coop fly control, and now you can try this method yourself! If you’d like to join the facebook Backyard Chickens community, request to join here.
Herbs and essential oils. Peppermint and lavender essential oils and dried herbs have been shown in studies to repel flies. Insects are also reported to be repelled by rosemary, basil, dill, thyme, bay leaves, and tansy. Visit the Henny & Roo Shop to order our coop herbs containing many of these varieties, or make a coop spray using 2 cups of vinegar, 2 cups of water, 2T of real vanilla extract, and 40 drops of the essential oils of any of the herbs above. Combine all ingredients in a spray bottle, shake, and spray coop generously.
Fly predators. Live fly predators can be ordered from various online sources, and are little flies themselves! However, they never become pests and feed on the larvae of the coop flies that we hate.
Diatomaceous Earth. Many people swear by the health properties of DE in the coop. DE is not a chemical, but a fine powder made from fossilized algea, or diatoms. The sharp edges of the granules form an inhospitable environment for insect larvae, and can be sprinkled on the floor of the coop or in dust bathing areas. Because of those microscopic sharp edges, though, DE can irritate the throat and lungs if inhaled, so be sure to wear a mask when applying it. We included Lumino Wellness Diatomaceous Earth in our April boxes. See our past boxes here.
Prepare for Trimming Our Henny & Roo monthly chicken supply box subscribers received pet nail clippers and styptic swabs in their June boxes (subscribe for our next box here). Set out all of your materials, and have a helper ready if it’s your first time. One person can hold the chicken, and the other can do the trimming. Identify the bird(s) that need trimming. Chickens who are allowed to scratch in the dirt may never need their nails trimmed, while those raised in cages and runs with soft bedding might have claws that are too long and effect their ability to walk and scratch. The nail should be short and level with the bottom of the toe. Trim nails that have curled, extend below the toe, or are sharp. Keeping the nails of roosters trimmed is especially important to prevent injuries to hens.
Getting Started Hold both feet with one hand and flip the bird onto its back. Cradle the bird in your other arm and use that arm to pin the wings down. If you are doing this by yourself, grab the bird’s feet with the same hand you cradled it in and this will free up your other hand for trimming. You may also choose to wrap the bird gently in a towel with its wings pinned down.
Trimming the Nails
1. Grasp the chicken’s toe and keep it still.
2. Clip a small portion off the tip of the nail. It is best to take only about 1/8 to ¼ of an inch. If you cut into the quick (the pink blood vessel inside the nail), it will bleed. But don’t panic! If the bleeding doesn’t stop after a couple of drops, use the styptic swabs per the package directions. You can also use toilet paper with pressure over the cut to stop the bleeding if necessary.
If your bird has extremely long nails, you will have to repeat this process over the course of a few months, because the quick will also be very long. After you cut the nail, however, the quick will begin to shrink back. Repeat the cutting in a week or two if the quick has receded until the nail is of normal length.
3. Dip the clippers in the bowl of rubbing alcohol to sanitize them before using on another bird.
More Information A video from Nutrena Feeds which demonstrates the steps in chicken nail trimming can be found at: https://youtu.be/t3YAJKZpgOU
About Henny & Roo
Henny & Roo is the first and only subscription box for backyard chicken keepers. Each month, we select products for your chickens, like treats, first aid, and coop maintenance products. It’s a great way to try new products for your flock and to build your first aid kit. We also throw in a couple of items for you, because why should our chickens have all the fun? Subscribe today, or try out a one-time box at hennyandroo.com and save 10% on your first subscription with coupon code JULY10.