Poultry Pest Patrol: Control Insects With Barnyard Fowl

Our readers share reports of the very favorable results they've seen from putting their chickens, guineas, and ducks to work on pest patrol.

| June/July 2009

chicken mealworm

Chickens have a knack for scratching up food and seeing tiny bugs to eat.


Chickens and other poultry are a wonderful addition to any backyard or homestead. They’re entertaining, easy-to-care-for pets, and they provide flavorful, nutritious eggs. Plus, the nitrogen-rich droppings they produce will help your garden flourish (after some time composting). But poultry have another advantage that’s often overlooked — they can provide outstanding tick and mosquito control and have voracious appetites for slugs, snails and other pests. They even eat mice and snakes sometimes!

We’ve been collecting readers’ Poultry Pest Patrol reports for several years, and your latest reports are presented below. Read more amazing accounts about how poultry can control ticks, mosquitoes and many other pests, or share your own experiences at the MOTHER EARTH NEWS Poultry Pest Patrol Page.

Chickens & Etc. to the Rescue

Farewell to Ticks and Flies

Last summer, I pulled at least a dozen ticks every night when I took my dog in the house. Then I got 200 chicks in two batches: the meat birds first, then the egg breeds. Within two weeks of letting the chicks out of the brooder, the ticks were gone, and we had few flies or any other type of bug.

The first set of birds did swimmingly. I trained them to come when called by throwing scratch on the ground. I started using the feed to lead them out to the woods, where I knew there was a lot to eat.

susan gray
4/20/2012 7:30:20 PM

I purchase some adult guinea chickens to help with tick control and they go all over eating bugs...more than my 5 acres. My neighbor called yesterday threatening to call the police on me because they are too loud. Is there any way to keep them on my land? Will I get in trouble with the law for my birds? I tried catching them last night but could only get 4 the rest went up higher in the trees than my ladder and the bucket on the tractor could go. I hate to get rid of them but he also said he is going to shoot them. He gets really nasty when he drinks.

aamir ghanchi
3/28/2012 5:50:55 PM

Any luck with scorpions? what kind of bird do I need to have to eradicate them.

9/21/2009 4:36:34 AM

I didn't know that ducks would eat snakes and mice etc. I want to have just a few around the house more or less as pets, but I'm afraid the will eat my goldfish in my very small pond. Do ducks eat fish too? Thanks for any help.

7/19/2009 6:57:31 PM

I have heard many comments about how beneficial ducks can be for pest control, while still keeping a garden intact. We have no natural water features on our property, but keep a child's wading pool with water for our honey bees and chickens. How necessary is a pond for the "happiness" of ducks? As for ticks, when our chickens have the run of the yard we are virtually tick free. Now that they are more or less confined to the orchard and woods, I pick ticks all the time. Thanks. V.

6/26/2009 1:08:58 PM

What are some of the best bantam breeds for bug control?

6/26/2009 12:04:44 PM

I keep reading that some breeds are better than others for foraging. Is there a bantam breed that is best suited for bug control? What is the best breed for bug control and decent eggs?

6/25/2009 11:58:39 AM

For Jean, the only thing that I can let you know about from what I've heard works is a guard dog. I don't know if this would work in your situation, but I watched on a gardening show (Gardening by the Yard, HGTV) that there's a powder you can sprinkle around to keep animals away-it is basically bobcat urine, and it'll even keep your birds from going certain places you don't want them to. FOr Amy, I wish you could send those frogs to the mainland! We are losing so many frogs to pesticides and chemicals that it's affecting our ecosystem horribly! Its a bigger problem than most know. ~Karen, Ky

6/24/2009 12:41:34 PM

As for predators...... I hang scratched CD's or old DVD's in the trees to keep hawks out. Seems to do a decent job with the unpredictable movement and the flashes of light. Coyotes are another story. I have a large dog that seems to keep them back some. Now I have heard that Llamas and donkeys will chase coyotes. That might be a thought. For snakes keep all houses, wood piles and the like up of the ground several inches. The chickens can at least see the snakes then and get away. 1/4 inch mesh hardware cloth is helpful as well. You will have to dig down to keep snakes and the like from going under it. And nail it down securely over any openings. This should also help keep out racoons and opossums as well.

6/24/2009 12:34:43 PM

I have chickens, turkeys and a peahen. They are good at keeping the bugs down (I still get some) And yes they will eat snakes. Which I don't mind as the snakes here would rather dine on eggs or chicks than put forth the effort to eat mice. In nearly 7 years I haven't had a copperhead on the place. Perhaps due to my not being by a stream or perhaps it is the birds. I have had them try to catch lizards and you have to watch them as they will eat the earthworms too. My turkey poults love weeds esp the clover that appears in the garden from time to time and have yet to eat anything I've planted. Now the chickens do damage stuff with their scratching. Chicken wire on the ground (bed springs ect.) will discourage that till the plants get up. Now if they would only seriously chase the squirrels and rabbits out I could be really lazy!

6/24/2009 11:15:50 AM

I'm reading some good stories, but why are so many of you commending your chickens for eating snakes? Most snakes that I know of are very beneficial predators of insects themselves. Leave the snakes alone!!

6/15/2009 10:38:04 AM

I have ducks in my city backyard, so we don't have problems with predators. In fact, we don't even pen them anymore at night and let them roam the yard at all times. Even the neighborhood cats don't seem to care. My ducks are only 4 months old and have totally taken care of any bugs in the yard. Just in the last week we have noticed that mosquitos in the evening are practically nonexistent and flies, no more! Pretty cool side benefit that I never even thought of. I was just interested in the eggs! www.whatupduck.com

6/11/2009 6:27:18 PM

Did anyone have success with ducks or chickens eating up their frogs?? We on the Big Island of Hawaii are having an infestion problem with the Coqui Frog!! The only catch is the the Coqui is a nocturnal creature-- but if a duck or chicken likes to eat them I would certainly try to train them to stay up nights!!

6/11/2009 12:03:58 PM

Although we have grown elderly, we still live on a small farm and have for many years. We have tried raising chickens, ducks, geese and so on, however, have been unable to keep them due to the wild critters and coyotes killing them all. we have been completely wiped out of all poultry , and sheep. any advice?

mother earth news fair


Feb. 17-18, 2018
Belton, Texas

More than 150 workshops, great deals from more than 200 exhibitors, off-stage demos, hands-on workshops, and great food!