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So, do chickens eat flies?
Flies are generally fine for your backyard hens. Chickens love to tuck into crunchy protein-rich insects like flies. A backyard with fragrant hens and lots of poo in the summer is likely to attract a tasty winged snack or two, and your girls are probably eating all sorts of flies without you knowing.
However, as with most things in life, they can have too much of a good thing, and chickens eating the wrong flies can definitely be harmful. This short article will cover the good and the bad of chickens eating flies.
It is totally normal for chickens to tuck into flies and other insects.
Insects are a key part of the diet of a backyard or free-range hen. If provided the opportunity they will roam and forage for flies, beetles, grubs, and worms.
Eating flies enables a chicken to exercise its innate behaviors. Listening, spotting, and catching a moving target like a fly is totally natural, and provides the same mental stimulation encouraged by peck toys.
So before you gross out on your hens fly cravings, just remember they are doing what comes naturally, and flies inject some much-needed variety to their day.
Flies have some great nutritional benefits.
Believe it or not, certain flies are a welcome enhancement to the day-to-day diet of backyard hens.
Flies and other insects are a rich source of crude protein as well as essential minerals and minerals that can make a massive difference to your chickens’ nutrition.
The high protein levels of insects like flies will definitely show up in the quality and flavor of the eggs your girls produce meaning you can also participate in the fly to fork experience!
What kinds of flies and insects can chickens eat safely?
Black Soldier Fly is a harmless, disease-free fly species that is currently starting a poultry feed revolution for both commercial and domestic hens.
Black soldier fly larvae are highly nutritious and are being touted as an affordable and sustainable source of protein for poultry around the globe.
Anyone can breed them on rotting poultry manure or vegetable food waste. Their byproducts make a great compost too!
Other winged and crawling tasty insect treats include:
- Flying ants
Chickens will love the nutrient-dense larvae and pupae of insects too, but these should not be eaten to excess as they are quite fatty.
But having flies around chickens has its downsides too.
Not all flies are safe for chickens to eat as they can carry diseases and parasites that can quickly sicken your pet hens. In particular, contact with the following types of flies should be avoided:
- The Housefly is a type of filth fly that is not only a nuisance but also carries a range of nasty diseases on their mouthparts, hairs, vomit, and feces. These flies are capable of transmitting salmonella and dysentery and often carry the eggs of protozoan and helminth parasites that can sicken your hens.
- Blowflies like Bluebottles and Greenbottles are a common pest that you don’t want your hens to dine on. Like house fly, they are also carriers of bacteria including botulinum and parasites that can harm hens.
- Black fly (not black soldier fly) are very dangerous to chickens. These predatory biting flies can kill large numbers of chickens with their painful and poisonous bites that cause blood loss and disease. If they horrifically swarm a chicken they can even suffocate it because of its large numbers.
- Gnats and Mosquitoes are also biting flies that you do not want to encourage to be near your chickens. Chickens can tuck into the odd mosquito but their biting can quickly become oppressive, especially at night when they are roosting.
With flies around, an infestation can quickly occur which increases the risk of disease as well as creating a real nuisance to hens and humans in the vicinity. Your chicken are not always discerning and may gorge on the filth flies, adding to the health problems that can
Stay on the safe side by keeping flies away from your hens!
If you are getting a lot of flies around your hens, it could be an indication that your coop sanitation needs to be improved. Chemical methods including the use of insecticides can be harmful to your hens.
Practical and natural strategies like increasing the regularity of cleaning of the coop, sprinkling diatomaceous earth around the coop, or growing pungent fly repelling herbs like mint, lavender, and rosemary are safe and effective.
Though flies are a great snack for chickens, the balance can easily be tipped towards infestation and disease. Remember, apart from insects, you have a range of options for introducing interesting and nutritious foods to your flock that will become firm favorites.