Using Stall Mats Works to Decrease The Livestock Fly Population

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PHOTO: COURTESY VALERIE HIRVELA, AMERICAN SILKIE BANTAM CLUB
We put stall mats under the rows of cages (25 to 30 cages) so raking and shoveling were easier, and we had a cleaner floor when we were done with that once-a-month job.

Here’s an effective tip for controlling flies when raising Silkie Bantam chickens: decrease the livestock fly population by using stall mats.

We have raised show rabbits for seven years and have had
wonderful experiences with my daughters showing them. The
major downside, as with all livestock, is manure management
and how to decrease the livestock fly population. Parasitic flies reduce the nasty fly population,
but have to be bought every year and are expensive. We’ve
tried chickens, but even Bantics with clipped wings would
flap their way up and roost on the cages. Usually they
roost right over the water bottle or dish . . . and yuck!
This year we took a double path to a fly-free, cleaner
environment. We put stall mats under the rows of cages (25
to 30 cages) so raking and shoveling were easier, and we
had a cleaner floor when we were done with that
once-a-month job.

We bought Silkie Bantam chickens who do a very poor job of
flying because their feathers are hairy instead of stiff.
They do hop and flap a lot and have made it to the top of a
closed garbage can with the help of a cage left beside the
can. But none have made it to the top of the cage.

I started with five chickens, which were too many, but a
marauding raccoon took three, including the rooster. Two
hens are just perfect for a 20 by 20 rabbit house. Once or
twice a week they get out and see the world, and I
frequently drop them some comfrey greens while feeding the
rabbits.

Besides the reduction — probably 80 percent fewer flies
compared to last year — my chickens make me happy.

Diana Moore Cason
Snohomish, Washington