Chickens are extremely vulnerable to biting insects. Although thick feathers provide some protection, fleshy combs and wattles are inviting blood-rich targets. Flies and mosquitoes also harbor diseases and bacteria, which can affect the health of your flock.
During daylight hours chickens are amazingly alert but once they flap up to the roost and nod off for the evening, they enter a near comatose state. When sleeping they can’t protect themselves from either biting insects. Unfortunately, this time is perfect for a mozzie attack! If the mosquitoes are out during the day, this can also cause problems. If your chooks are constantly fighting them off, they won’t be eating, drinking, and enjoying life.
The extra energy spent constantly moving to keep bugs off also can cause your chickens to lose weight and experience heat stress.
The first thing to help our feather friends is to try to reduce the mosquito population:
- Tidy up the yard. Remove toys, tools, cans or anything else that can hold even a small amount of rainwater.
- Check and clean rain gutters. Sometimes a wad of old leaves blocks a gutter, causing a standing pool of water. One gutter can produce thousands of mosquitoes.
- Change chicken drinking water often. Buckets and waterers for chickens, dogs, or other animals can quickly become mosquito breeders. So can a bird bath. At least every two days dump out the old water and replace it. Or use one of our automatic waterers. These are a sealed unit and stop mosquitoes laying eggs.
- Encourage mosquito predators. Birds, bats, fish, frogs, toads, and even some insects, like dragonflies, eat mosquitoes. Yards with a diversity of vegetation encourage mosquito predators.
- Stock decorative backyard pools with a few goldfish to snack on larvae.
Try a natural remedy:
Like most pests, mosquitoes are not fans of strong aromatic herbs. Certain plants such as citronella, lemon balm, basil, lavender and several more repel mosquitoes. Plant a garden around your chicken coop to repel mosquitoes, insects, and even rodents.
Add nest blend to your nest boxes to repel unwanted creepy crawlies from your laying hens.
Citronella is safe for chickens and is great for keeping bugs away – particularly mosquitoes.
Put a few potted citronella plants in the coop. They look great, keep the air smelling fresh, and help keep mosquitoes from bothering the hens.
You can also use fresh citronella in nesting boxes. Just be sure to clean your nesting boxes 3-4 times a week if you’re using fresh herbs.
Marigold is an annual growing, hardy bright coloured flower that mosquitoes do not like because it contains Pyrethrum which is an ingredient used in many insect repellents. Planting marigold flowers around your coop keeps the mosquitoes at bay. Calendula is different. It has great flowers to feed your backyard chicken flock for golden yolks, but regular marigolds are the way to go for mosquito control.
Lemon balm also contains citronella and can be mixed in feed and nesting boxes.
Planting garlic around your chicken coop will repel mosquitoes. You can make a garlic spray and spray it around your coop to keep insects away. The spray will repel insects and mosquitoes for about two weeks and other insects for almost a month.
Nasturtium is an insect repellant that is attractive also. The pretty flowers of the plant can add to the landscape used around the coop. Nasturtium is also an egg-laying stimulant. Provide it to your hens to help prevent them from becoming egg-bound.
Toss dried or fresh herbs into the coop and your flock will eat them quickly. Grow herbs on the outside perimeter of the coop and your chickens will consume the parts that they can reach. The plant’s roots will be safe from scratching hens. Tie up bundles of dried herbs in the coop and run to keep insects out of the coop.
- Plant rosemary, lavender, bee balm, basil, catnip or thyme around the run (or hang sachets).
- Stick cloves into half an orange, lime or lemon and hang around the coop.
- Sprinkle cinnamon
How to make a garlic spray:
Garlic Coop Spray
- Five cloves of garlic
- Lemon Juice
- Spray Bottle
- Mince garlic
- Cover the minced garlic with oil
- Soak for 24 hours
- After soaking for 24 hours remove minced garlic pieces
- Mix the oil the garlic soaked in with 2 cups of water
- Add 1 tsp of lemon juice
- Strain through a cheesecloth or chuxcloth (or similar)
- Put in a spray bottle
This can be sprayed in and around your nest boxes and chicken coop.
Peppermint Insect Repellent
- Spray Bottle
- Steep peppermint and lemongrass in hot water
- Allow to cool
- Fill spray bottle
- Gently mist by spraying upwards allowing the mist to fall
- Don’t drench the chooks, just a mist is enough
- Avoid eyes, ears and nostrils (you can squirt your fingers and gently apply by rubbing your fingers AROUND those areas – not in or on them)