Fly Control in Poultry Farm: 6 Best Practices

Posted by Rowan Burgess on

As a poultry farmer, you can’t neglect fly control.

Fly control is essential for many reasons. For one, it protects your chickens from diseases like botulism, E. Coli, and tapeworms. It also improves performance as it prevents your chickens from becoming irritated. Perhaps most importantly, you have a legal obligation to implement fly control as it keeps your chickens healthy.

Too many poultry farms use poor practices. Some even neglect fly control altogether. If you want to start implementing effective fly control, you’re in luck. We’re here to provide expert advice. 

This guide shows you the six best ways to control the fly population in poultry houses. 

1. Practice Good Sanitation and Eliminate Moisture

An essential part of fly control is prevention. If you can prevent flies in the first place, you won’t have to put as much effort into elimination methods.

The key to prevention is practicing good sanitation and eliminating moisture. To understand why let’s take a closer look at what conditions in which flies thrive.

Flies need moist environments for fly breeding and laying eggs. To be specific, fly breeding occurs in rotting organic matter with a 50–85% moisture content. Poultry manure is ideal as it has a moisture content of around 75–80%.

Additionally, a fly’s primary food source is rotting organic matter. Fly larvae use their chewing mouth-parts to eat chicken manure, dead birds, broken eggs, and other fermenting matter. Adult flies also eat these things using their sucking mouth-parts. If the matter is too dry, they use their acidic saliva to dissolve it. Note that eggs and pupae do not eat. Eggs and pupae rely solely on their stored energy.

To summarize, flies need moisture and rotting organic material to breed and eat. To keep them at bay, you need to eliminate these factors as much as possible. Here are some efficient ways to do so:

Use a High-Quality Litter

High-quality litter is made of straw, sawdust, wood shavings, or other absorbent materials, and you should change the litter at least once a week. These types of litter will collect manure, feathers, and other organic material in your coop. 

Manage Manure

When you change the litter, you’ll be removing manure. However, there are other steps you can take to manage manure.

For instance, you can apply a drying agent. This will remove moisture, control the smell with deodorizers , and make it easier to handle.

You can also install boards underneath perches and roots to catch manure. This, in turn, makes it easy to remove manure daily.

Remove Other Organic Matter

In addition to removing manure, you must remove other decaying organic matter immediately. Dead birds and broken eggs are a feast for flies.

Important note: Whenever you remove organic matter, you must dispose of it properly. You should load it into a tarpaulin-covered trailer and dispose of it at least 3.2 km away from your farm. Be sure to comply with government disposal regulations.

Check for Leaks

Every so often, you should inspect your coop for leaks. Leaks will bring in excess water and create a paradise for flies. Check for leaks in the drinking system, roof, etc.

2. Maintain the Perimeter of Your Coop

Maintaining the inside of poultry houses is crucial. However, it’s just as essential maintaining the perimeter.

If you don’t take care of the perimeter, flies will make themselves comfortable. This can lead to them eventually making their way inside the house.

Some ways to maintain the perimeter include:

Cut Your Grass Regularly

We know that you have a lot to do around your farm. But make sure you cut your grass regularly. Tall grass tends to trap moisture. Especially during the summer months, flies will thrive in this humid environment.

Clear Weeds and Clippings

Like tall grass, weeds and clippings will trap moisture and create humid environments. Prevent this by picking weeds regularly. Also, don’t leave weeds and yard clippings lying around. They will rot and serve as the perfect breeding ground for flies. Dispose of all yard scraps away from the house.

Eliminate Pooling Water

Pooling water is an oasis for fly eggs. So, make sure you don’t leave out buckets or other objects that can collect water.

Fix Drainage Issues

Especially if you live in a rainy area, good drainage is important. It will prevent pooling by drawing water away from the coop. Just make sure that any drainage ditches are far enough away.

3. Use Screens or Fans

Another suitable method is physically keeping flies out of the coop. You can do this by installing screens or fans.

Screens

If you use screens, you should install them in entrance doors, inlets, and windows.

Mesh screens are affordable and made of various materials (PVC, aluminum, coated steel, stainless steel, etc.). Any of these materials will work. Just make sure that the screen you get has holes between 0.88mm and 1.22mm. Anything smaller might affect ventilation. Anything larger won’t keep out flies.

Fans

Fans with an outward flow will prevent flies from entering the coop. Fans are also beneficial in that they improve air circulation. This reduces moisture by keeping everything as dry as possible.

4. Insecticide Sprays

Insecticide sprays are an effective chemical method for managing the adult fly population. These products consist of insecticides laced with sugar and pheromones to attract adult flies.

The two main types of insecticides are residual and non-residual. Let’s take a closer look at each type:

Residual Sprays

Residual sprays are more of a long-term solution. Once they are applied, they should last for around 2-3 months.

Non-Residual Sprays

Unlike residual insecticides, non-residual sprays are more of a short-term solution. They are best for addressing infestations. They will kill flies almost immediately but will no longer be effective. If you plan on using both non-residual and residual, apply residual first.

Tips for Applying Insecticides

Whether you use a residual or non-residual insecticide, keep the following points in mind:

  • Empty the chicken coop of all animals and supplies
  • Thoroughly clean and disinfect the chicken coop before applying
  • Never apply the insecticide directly to chickens
  • Prevent contamination of water and food supplies
  • Apply only to non-absorbent surfaces (painted walls, hardwood, etc.)
  • Allow the insecticide 2-3 hours to completely dry (dry insecticide is not harmful to chickens or humans)
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions of whatever product you’re using
  •  Wear protective equipment (long sleeves and pants, gloves, mask, eye protection, etc.)
  • Rotate which products you use, so flies don’t develop resistance
  • Realize that these products are not effective on eggs

5. Fly Traps

When you think of fly management, fly traps are probably the first that comes to mind. They have many benefits and can easily be put throughout your chicken coop. They draw flies away from breeding areas and kill them.

There are many different kinds of traps. Two of the most common include: 

  • Flypaper. You can hang flypaper on walls, from the ceiling, etc. Note that it collects dust and requires frequent changing.
  • UV fixtures. UV fixtures are costly, but they do an excellent job of trapping flies. Note that they are only effective against common house flies. They don’t work on lesser house flies (which can be prevalent in your chicken coop).

Realize that traps aren’t going to kill large fly populations. You’ll find that they’re most useful when you use them in tandem with other methods.

Their main benefit is that they help you monitor the fly population. You can determine what fly species are infiltrating the coop. This will help you determine which control methods to use. It will also give you a record you can use in case you get a public health complaint.

6. Larvicides

Practices 4 & 5 are effective, but you should realize that they only target adult flies. They do not eliminate larvae.

To eliminate fly larvae, you will need larvicide. It is available as both a spray and granules. You can apply it either on manure or litter.

With this insecticide, timing is critical. It is more effective on younger larvae than older larvae. It’s best to make the first application after the chickens have been in the coop for two weeks. Realize that this insecticide is slow-acting and can take up to 2 weeks to kick in.

Another to keep in mind? This insecticide is just like all other insecticides. Flies can develop a resistance to it. You can prevent this by rotating which chemicals you use every 6-9 weeks. Make sure you use a different chemical class rather than just using another brand.

Conclusion

Flies are the last thing you want on your poultry farm. Seeing as they spread disease and irritate poultry, they cause nothing but trouble.

Luckily, you can easily control the flies in your poultry houses. The six practices we discussed require a little time and investment. But, once you implement them, you’ll find that they were well worth the effort. Your chickens will be happier, healthier, and perform better.

This guide is a great starting point for implementing fly control. If you want more information, contact us today! Dalton Engineering specializes in everything poultry farming. Our experts can give you advice and recommend the best products for your poultry houses.


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