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Chickens Health Issues

Buzz Off: Flies and Flystrike in Your Backyard Chickens

This past week, I received a message from a friend of Tilly’s Nest.

“This weekend we lost a big beautiful black australorp hen – seemingly out of the blue – but as I look back, I should have know something was wrong when she did not roost with the others for two nights. (I just thought it was because we had recently – within the past month – introduced 3 new flock members and there was some re-arranging.) I had noticed an increase of flies in the coop, but thought it was due to the change to warmer weather. ….We have been in near drought conditions – so the coop was nice and dry, and clean with fresh shavings and DE. On Sunday, we noticed her out in the run with the flock, but laying down and not dust-bathing -just laying down. My son picked her up and screamed that she had maggots! In fact, it was fly-strike and she was plumb full of them – to the point that her innards were eaten away and rotting. I have never seen anything like it – she died within the hour and we buried her immediately. All of the other hens look fine. I can only imagine that she had a scratch or wound when it started.”

 

 
Photo Credit: aslakr
So what is flystrike?
The scientific name for flystrike is Myiasis.  It is also is sometimes called fly blown.  Myiasis can strike animals and humans alike .  Flies are attracted to exposed tissue.  It can be through odor such as fecal material, vomit,  infection, open wounds or sores, eye drainage, cuts and even scrapes.  The worst part is that is happens very quickly.  Flies lay their eggs and within eight to twelve hours, maggots emerge to begin eating on the affected flesh.  This is irritating and painful to those inflicted.  This typically occurs in mid to late summer and can be fatal if not caught quickly enough.  It moves very rapidly and can happen both indoors and outside. In the US, human cases of Myiasis are a rarity and are more common in South America and Africa.
The nesting box blend
Preventing Flystrike
  • Inspect your flock daily.
  • Keep your flock’s bottoms clean.. If needed, bathe them.  Treat vent gleet and feather picking/missing feathers. Treat any open wounds.
  • Keep the coop clean and dry.  You might consider avoiding the deep litter method in warm weather.
  • Utilize fresh blends of dried herbs and flowers such as Nesting Box Blend from Treats for Chickens.
  • Try dusting your coop with food grade Diatomaceous Earth.
  • Try hanging the tree shaped Vanilla Air Fresheners in your coop and run-flies supposidly hate these.
  • Run a fan creating a gentle breeze through the coop and run.
  • Fill some clear containers/baggies with pennies and water and deter flies-it bother’s their eyes. Read more here. I think it is worth a try.
  • Add screens to your coop’s window and doors.
  • Close the coop doors at night.
  • Plant some fresh herbs around the coop-Flies avoid Mint, Lavender, Basil and Rosemary
Lavender peeks from behind the dill.
Treating Flystrike
  • Remove any maggots.
  • Clean the wound and it most likely will be necessary to make a trip to the vet to have the decaying tissue removed.
  • Antibiotics might required.
For more information and other ideas about preventing flies, please click here.
 
 
References:
Photo Credit:  Tilly’s Nest unless otherwise specified

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