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chickens to discourage apple maggot

 
Kelda Miller
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I've got some maggoty problems in my yard: cherry maggot, walnut husk fly, and apple maggot in the compost (I scout apples from around the whole town, it may not be wise, but I then compost all the cores or parts I don't use in my own compost).

Luckily, though, we also have chickens. They're supposed to be able to dig up the offending maggots that live in the ground through the winter. BUT we only have six chickens, and tend to let them out for afternoon hours when we remember it
(the hens lay eggs in the morning, so we'd like for them to do that in the nest boxes)

Will that be enough to prevent maggot from getting back into the cherries for next year's crop?
My question is: are those chickens Really into finding maggots? or should I fence them off in areas with a lot of fruit fall to encourage them to scratch at the soil relentlessly?

 
Leah Sattler
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I would build a tractor that you can drag to different areas and force them to dig and scratch the maggoty area real well. it seems to me that they are unlikely to eradicate them if they just free range bu tisuppose it depends on how mcuh other stuff there is for them to eat. do they spend alot of time under the trees now?
 
Susan Monroe
Posts: 1093
Location: Western WA
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Are they a heavy or light breed of chicken?  If they are a heavy breed (like my Buff Orpingtons), you don't really need a chicken tractor per se, just a length of 24-30" fencing if you happen to have some lying around.  I have a roll of 30" that I drag around for various uses in various places. 

I will place it in a certain area, open it into a circle of the appropriate size, call the chickens and rattle a little scratch in a tuna can, lift one side of the wire and toss the scratch into the center.  The Girls run under the wire and into the circle.  Since they're a heavy breed, they're not much for flying or jumping over the fence.  If they're going to be there for very long, I put a bowl of water with a rock in it for them.

I don't know how long the stages are for the pests: how long they remain in the fruit, how fast they go into the ground, etc.  If I had more fruit trees than the sour cherries I've got, I would be tempted to put my wire mesh around the earliest tree first, let the girls clean up there, then move on to the next and do the same thing.

We need more input and more info!

Sue
 
Steve Nicolini
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I wonder if there are any grub loving flyers you could attract to your yard.  I know Robins love pokin around for grubs.  Also, are there any pest deterrents you could guild with your trees to keep the maggots at bay? 

I have limited knowledge and zero experience in this area. 
 
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