How to keep flies off the chicken coop

After the recently concluded national census, I wonder how many farmers were asked questions about their poultry farms. If for some reason you did not volunteer this vital information, we may have to wait another 10 years to know how many chickens are reared in Kenya.

Anyway, our topic this week is on the fly menace and how farmers can contain the situation in the poultry sheds. Fly menace in livestock farm-ing in warm humid conditions as found in the tropics is incre-asingly becoming a threat to both humans and chicken. Flies are known to carry disea-se-causing organisms like sal-monella, pasteurella and pa-thogenic E.coli. These germs can caude serious diseases in both humans and poultry.

One female housefly is capable of laying 150 eggs in one batch and in a few days, she will produce 5 or 6 such batches in her lifetime. Once they hatch, they will hide in damp, dark places and certainly prefer rotting compost manure, deco-mposing materials like eggs, dead chikens, offal. Flies will live for about 15-25 days.

Here are the things you need to do when faced with this challenge:

Good litter management

The first thing is to ensure your manure or litter in the poultry shed is dry and friable all the time. Farmers who do this rarely have issues with excessive fly population. This can be achieved by good venti-lation, correct placement density for the type of bird and healthy chickens with no intestinal infections that cause excessive diarrhea. Check drinkers to ensure they are not leaking or full over the brim. If you are using automatic drink-ing system, ensure that the water pressure is moderate to avoid excessive leaks. Damp litter or litter at end of produ-ction should be thrown away from the poultry site. The secret is always to avoid or completely reduce excessive moisture or waterlog in the poultry units. These flies like breeding in such a damp environment where they depo-sit their eggs which hatch into larvae in 20 hours.

Cleaning and disinfection

Keeping the poultry unit clean and disinfected always especi-ally auxiliary areas, egg or feed stores etc. will go along way in removing any breeding grounds for flies. Immediately remove and dispose of dead chicks, spilled feeds, dead rodents or broken eggs.

Use of chemicals or insecticides

You can use domestic insecti-cides available in agrovets, but this is only a temporary meas-ure. In farms where birds are on cages flies can really be a big problem. You can use insecticides in two categories, residual and non-resudual.

Residual insecticide: ensure the poultry unit is completely empty. It should be cleaned with water and general deter-gent thoroughly as usual. Then and only after cleaning, apply this type of insecticide by spraying on non-absorbent surfaces of the walls, ceiling, and floor. Please ensure you protect your self using gloves and overalls. Leave to dry for 2-3 hours. This will kill flies for 2-3 months and is safe for both humans ans poultry.

Larvicides: These chemicals target the larval stages of flies. They come as granules and are applied on the manure especia-lly where birds are kept on cages. You can apply them every 6-9 weeks.

Fly attractants: There are some chemicals that came as paint. These can be painted on the walls of the chicken house and will attract flies due to their smell and kill instantly.

Non-residual insecticidr: These are applied like an above but have no residual activity and will only kill the flies at the time of application. They are applied through spray or fogging.

Mechanical fly traps

Use of ultraviolet zappers. These are used outside the pou-ltry shed and in stores where eggs or poultry are processed. They are electric in nature and will draw flies based on the ultraviolet lights and killing the flies by electrocution. Flypaper adhesives, these are paper coated with fragrant, extremely attractive non-toxic sticky substance.

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