If you keep backyard chickens, you almost certainly have flies in your yard too.
Here’s everything you need to know about the potential risks flies present to your chickens, and how to get rid of them.
Do chickens eat flies? Yes, chickens do eat flies and there is little risk in them doing so. They don’t tend to go out of their way to eat them though, you’ll need to take action yourself to get rid of flies in their coop.
Do Chickens Attract Flies?
If you have backyard chickens, you almost certainly have flies hanging around.
It’s not the chickens themselves that are attracting those flies though, it’s the smell of food, decomposing matter, and their poop.
Chickens poop a lot, so this is the main reason why you’ll almost certainly have flies hanging around.
Are Flies Harmful to Chickens?
For the most part, flies are not harmful to chickens when kept under control.
If you start having a serious problem like an infestation, however, then there are some potential health and stress issues that can arise.
The WHO explains that flies can pick up and spread disease-causing organisms while hopping from poop and decomposing matter to chickens and even us.
Let’s not play this down, we all know flies like to stand, walk, and feed on poop and other things that we wouldn’t ever go anywhere near.
They then fly around in our homes, the chicken coop, and walk all over surfaces we come into contact with.
It’s not a nice thought.
Then chickens eat them….
So, there is always a small risk that a fly is carrying some kind of bacteria or parasite that they will transmit to your flock.
I have read that they can transmit roundworms and tapeworms. Two types of parasites that can cause some issues to your flock once they’re in their digestive system.
That’s a reason to do something about a fly problem in your yard and not leave it up to your flock to peck away and reduce the numbers for you!
Related content - Do chickens eat stink bugs?
How Do You Get Rid of Flies Around Chickens?
It might take trying a few different things, but you can get rid of flies around your chickens and their coop if you implement the following measures:
Keep Their Coop Clean
This is the number one priority. A clean coop will reduce the number of flies frequenting their coop.
Pay special attention to any damp areas in their coop, their nesting boxes, and areas they poop a lot such as under their roosting perch.
If you haven’t yet started using diatomaceous earth I recommend doing so. I’ve talked about DE a few times on this blog because it has so many uses with backyard flocks, it’s fair to say I’m a huge fan.
Sprinkling some in their coop will help dry out droppings and damp areas, kill other parasites, lice, and fly lava if present, and more. It’s awesome.
I also covered some best practices for when to change out coop bedding in this post.
Here's the food grade diatomaceous earth I recommend using available on Amazon:
Use Fly Traps
It’s probably not going to be possible to get a fly problem under control without using some forms of flytrap.
There are a number of different products on the market, and I’ve used most of them over the years.
For me, one that stands far above the rest on pure effectiveness as attracting and killing flies is the Captivator.
This large container can hold up to two quarts of flies, and while it’s totally gross when filled with dead flies, it’s a clear sign that it works.
It uses some kind of scent that attracts flies. I’m not sure exactly what it is and what it does to them, but they literally cannot resist it!
All you have to do is mix a little water with the attractant and it’s good to go. The manufacturer states that it does not use any harsh chemicals or insecticides, so there are no dangers to other pets and children that may be able to reach it.
It’ll trap house flies, horse flies, black soldier flies, fruit flies, all the common types of fly I can think of that you would see in your yard.
Protect Their Food and Water
If you have a number of flies zipping around your chicken’s food and water, the risk of diseases being spread is magnified.
Move their food and water supplies to an area with fewer flies is possible. Don’t leave excess food out to spoil, don’t put any in the hot sun, do what you can to reduce the attraction for flies.
No matter how serious your fly problem is, avoid using chemical insecticides.
First of all, there’s no need to use harsh chemicals. I’ve known people with some serious infestation problems that were able to get the situation under control.
They had to dump a few full Captivator’s out a day for a while along with some other measures, which was disgusting. But they got there.
The second issue with using chemical solutions is that they will also be harmful to chickens and other wildlife. As well as natural fly predators that may be helping.
In Summary - Do Chickens Eat Flies?
Chickens do eat flies, yes. They eat most insects, bugs, and small pests.
Eating a few flies on occasion doesn’t present much of a health risk. But flies are capable of carrying and transmitting diseases, so it’s something to be aware of.
If you have a fly problem in your yard, you’re going to need to step in and do something about it.
Not just to reduce the risk of disease. Having flies buzzing around is annoying to both us and chickens.
With a combination of ramping up the cleaning, and using food grade diatomaceous earth and fly traps, and following the tips in this article - I’m sure you’ll be able to get the situation under control.
Houseflies - Who.int