Infestations by flies, mites, and beetles are a real threat to farmers. They can severely limit productivity and destroy the health of an entire flock. Outbreaks shouldn't be underestimated, but you don't have to live in fear of them either. There are many techniques and products available designed to limit the spread of unwanted guests on your farm.
These techniques are best used in tandem. No one practice on its own can absolutely protect your flock from harm. By utilising a mixture of good habits and practices as part of your usual routine, you stand the best chance of avoiding an outbreak altogether. In this guide, we will walk you through how to do just that.
What is the Process of Pest Control in Poultry Farming?
As we said before, there are a variety of ways to reduce the spread of insects and larvae throughout your farm. Many of these techniques relate to prevention rather than offering easy cures. The cure is rarely easy, and prevention is always recommended. Good habits usually lead to good results, so it is always beneficial to stay on top of how you manage your poultry operations.
The excessive use of insecticides has fallen out of favour in recent years, meaning many farmers are looking for new ways to prevent infestations. With that in mind, we have compiled some of the most successful practices you can employ to keep your chickens happy and your farm productive.
Best Practices for Poultry Pest Management
Dry Manure Management
One of the best things you can do to minimise fly breeding in your poultry house is to remove manure frequently. Flies love moist environments, so leftover bird manure is perfect for their eggs. By removing manure in the poultry house at least twice a week, you can destroy the egg cycle, thus vastly reducing the larvae population.
Cleaning out dry manure frequently is a superior choice to using insecticides. This is because it is not only flies that choose to live within it, but beneficial insects such as beetles and mites may also call it home. Beetles and mites are capable of vastly reducing larvae in manure, often by consuming the eggs. Insecticides kill off this entire biological ecosystem, removing the helpful beetles and mites too. However, not all mites and beetles are friendly.
Litter beetles and their larvae can cause serious structural damage to your poultry shed. Adult litter beetles are also known to lay up to 800 eggs throughout their lifetime. Beetles can definitely help to control flies, but they shouldn't be actively encouraged to run rampant. As for unfriendly mites, let us introduce you to the worst one…
There are many parasites that can infest your poultry house if proper precautions are not taken. The most dangerous of these is the Northern Fowl mite. This mite is most likely to affect stressed birds and take blood from their host for their entire seven-day lifespan. They are often originally brought into the poultry house via wild birds, who then pass them onto the housed birds or eggs via physical contact.
This infestation among your birds will be worsened if they are kept in close proximity. The mite can travel simply by leaping from bird to bird. If your birds are all kept together within a single house, there is little to stop the Northern Fowl mite from infesting your entire flock. This could result in a mortality rate as severe as 30%.
The best way to prevent the Northern Fowl mite is to take action as soon as you discover them. A high pressure application of acaricide is often used to rid birds of this mite. While this is usually effective, prevention is always easier than cure. Strong sanitation habits and adequate spacing for birds can significantly reduce the gestation of this mite.
Poultry operations have grown dramatically in size in recent decades. This is perfect for adult flies, as it provides them with large breeding areas for their larvae. Fly breeding is especially abundant in poultry manure. The most common flies to plague your poultry are house flies.
These house flies generally grow to about half an inch in length and are known to lay their eggs in moist locations. This often means poultry manure and feed are prime locations for fly breeding.
Controlling these fly populations is of the utmost importance as they can spread diseases throughout poultry and onto humans. An adult house fly will always prefer cool temperatures, so it is often found within the poultry shed or egg room.
There are four traps we can recommend for house fly population control:
- Fly In Fly Trap: can catch up to 40,000 house flies. Just add water!
- Value Fly Control: automatic aerosol dispenser to kill flies immediately
- Red Top Fly Trap: environmentally friendly and completely effective for 12 weeks
- XL Sticky Fly Roll: cost-effective and classic, it kills flies with no insecticide
Any one of these products could prove to be the ideal solution to your house fly problem.
We have saved this section for last as it is easily the most effective way to prevent pest infestations. Some of the best ways to enact proper sanitation include the following:
- Installation of Eaves and Troughs: for larvae to reach the adult stage, they require a moist environment. With the correct fixtures and drainage, you can minimise the potential damage from rainwater
- Frequent Cleaning: manure should be cleaned out twice per week, and dead adult chickens or eggs should be removed from the premises immediately
- Keep Feed Stored Securely: feed should never be left along the floor of the shed for extended periods. This can attract a variety of pests
The use of insecticides can be effective in certain instances to control pests, but it can also negatively impact the environment. Biological control, through the introduction of beneficial beetles and mites, is a preferred option among entomologists.
As we mentioned at the beginning, a mixture of these techniques is the best strategy you can employ. There is no singular quick and easy fix for outbreaks in farming.
However, with the right preparation, you can rest assured you have done all you can to minimise the risk.