The girls have a roost over deep litter (straw) then a small covered run with food and water (also deep straw). They leave this area daily to free-range in pasture protected by movable electric fencing. The flies seem to be loving the poop that ends up under the roost. I do turn it occasionally, and also turn the straw in the run. I thought the chickens would turn it, but they prefer to be out in the pasture, so they don't spend much time in the run.
I don't mind insects at all, but I do feel like the fly population might be excessive, and am wondering if this indicated mismanagement on my part.
We get lots of houseflies at certain times of year, and two things have been effective.
1) Sticky traps. I used to get the spiral things that you hang from the ceiling, but they tend to break when we pull them open. Since last year we got these transparent window ones, that work really well. Stick it on the inside of a window that receives direct light, and you'll find that most of the flies in the room are stuck to it within 24 hours. Remove and dispose of it, and put up a fresh one. This one won't fill up as fast because the population is down.
The drag is, this is a piece of plastic to dispose of, though it's not very big.
And you want to make sure the chickens can't reach it -- they'll be really unhappy if they peck at a stuck fly and get themselves all stuck in the sticky stuff. It is seriously sticky. So much so, that we stick it with newspaper to remove it.
These are very effective and really reduce the fly numbers dramatically.
2) We had some success with a light trap bottle on our composting toilets. Our composting toilets are large chambers, and deposits are often not covered perfectly because of the large space, so there are flies at some times of year. We drilled a hole in the manure chamber door up high, and attached a clear bottle on the outside. Then we added covers for the user's hole above, so that the hole is covered when not in use. So it's dark down there in the manure chamber, and the flies go towards the only light, which is coming from the hole in the door. They get into the bottle and can't figure out their way back out into the dark manure chamber, so they spend the rest of their days in there, and then expire.
This would be great for feeding back to the chickens. Our bottles did catch a fair volume of flies and reduced the population, but maybe not as drastically as the sticky traps, though perhaps we didn't make our space as light-proof as necessary. And in terms of waste, you reuse a waste bottle, and then keep reusing it, so that side is nice.
However, it's a bit tricky to make it so that the ONLY light the flies see is from the bottle. Maybe a bright LED taped to the bottle and running all night would work?
Works at a residential alternative high school in the Himalayas SECMOL.org . "Back home" is Cape Cod, E Coast USA.
Periodically [once every few days up to once a week or so, however frequently you feel necessary] do not open the Chickens up to the pasture. Leave them locked in the run and throw some appropriate vegetation in there with them to munch on in addition to nature's-provided-protein. They'll do their chicken thing and snap up as many flies as they can catch and scratch up their eggs/larvae.
Kyrt Ryder wrote:Periodically [once every few days up to once a week or so, however frequently you feel necessary] do not open the Chickens up to the pasture. Leave them locked in the run and throw some appropriate vegetation in there with them to munch on in addition to nature's-provided-protein. They'll do their chicken thing and snap up as many flies as they can catch and scratch up their eggs/larvae.