House flies, soldier flies and other non-biting flies can and often do become a problem in poultry buildings. They do not bite or feed on the birds but may carry pathogens because of their habit of feeding on manure, dead birds and other waste materials.
Poultry manure is an excellent development material for fly larvae. Caged layer operations concentrate a large amount of manure in a relatively small area and therefore create an ideal situation for producing many flies. Flies and odor coming from poorly managed buildings may result in legal action against the producer.
Poultry lice are small, wingless insects with chewing mouthparts. The most common in Nebraska are brown chicken lice and chicken body lice. Less important are large chicken lice, shaft lice, chicken head lice, fluff lice, and several other species which are rarely present.
Poultry lice chew dry skin scales and feathers; they do not suck blood. Irritation from louse mouthparts and movement on birds causes appetite loss, weakened condition and susceptibility to diseases. Egg production is reduced, and heavily infested birds refuse to eat and gradually lose weight. Lice can be observed moving on the skin when feathers are parted, especially around the vent, head and under wings.
Several kinds of mites attack poultry. The most common are chicken mites and northern fowl mites. Occasionally scaley-leg mites are a problem.
Chicken mites feed at night. During the day they stay in cracks around roosts and interior portions of poultry houses. At night, they feed on the birds as they roost or nest. Chicken mites are very small, grey to yellow in color, but darken after filling with blood. Control of chicken mites is directed more to their hiding places in houses than to the birds.
Northern fowl mites remain on poultry. They are very small, red or brown. Feathers are discolored by excrement and eggs, and the skin is scabby. Control of the northern fowl mites must be directed to the birds.
Chicken and northern fowl mites suck blood, resulting in emaciation and lowered egg production. Continued heavy infestations can kill the birds.
Scaley-leg mites burrow under the skin, especially on the lower legs and feet. Legs become scaley, swollen, and exude lymph. Severely infested birds may be crippled or unable to walk. In addition to treating with insecticides, legs may be dipped in a mixture of raw linseed oil, 2 parts, and kerosene, 1part.
The common bedbug and several other closely related insects feed on poultry. They are flat, wingless, bloodsucking insects about 1/5 inch long when fully grown and have a very distinctive pungent odor when crushed. Bedbugs feed at night, hiding and laying eggs behind insulation, in wall cracks, loose boards, nests and other dark areas during the day. At night they move to sleeping birds and suck their blood. Small, dark fecal dots around cracks, roosts, and on eggs are observed frequently.
Bedbugs can be carried into poultry houses by other birds; they also can be carried from poultry houses into human dwellings and become a pest of people. Control must be directed inside the housing, using the materials suggested for residual fly control. (See Table III.)
House flies are the most persistent and common pest, although other species such as blow flies and little house flies are present. House flies do not bite poultry, but are severe nuisances, and can spread some poultry diseases. House flies are present because of poultry manure and exposed wet feed, which are ideal breeding materials. Manure management is most important for house fly reduction. Manage manure under caged birds so the moisture content is reduced to allow coning (approx. 35-40% moisture). If manure can't be dried, spread it in the fields every 5 days. In liquid manure pits, the manure should be liquified rapidly to reduce fly breeding. Manure that remains partially solid in pits creates an ideal breeding site. In some management practices, agitating the liquid in pits has greatly reduced fly breeding.
Chemical controls are valuable, but should be considered secondary to manure management practices. Many poultry operations use a combination of good manure management and one or more of the chemical controls .
Effective and economical fly control depends on:
1) good sanitation practices to remove fly breeding areas,
2) proper use of insecticides to kill adult flies,
3) treatment of manure with an insecticide to control maggots if needed, and
4) good management practices throughout the year, especially in controlled environment buildings.
The first, most important step in fly control is prompt and regular removal of waste material where flies breed. Flies lay eggs on wet, decaying material. This includes waste feed, broken eggs and dead birds. The maggots that hatch from these eggs cannot develop in manure or other dry materials.
Keep droppings dry. Repair water leaks, both in water supply lines and building roofs. Soldier fly infestations usually start around the outside of open buildings where rain and snow have blown onto the manure and made it wet.
The caged layer operator has two options available when considering the frequency of manure removal:
Weekly removal. Removing manure once each week during the active fly season (May through October) and throughout the year in controlled environment buildings doesn't allow sufficient time for the maggots to develop into adult flies. Predators and parasites that feed on the eggs and maggots also are removed. Occasional insecticide treatment to control adult flies may be needed.
Occasional removal. The manure is allowed to cone up under the cages and dry and is removed once or twice a year. The predators and parasites develop to their maximum. If manure becomes wet, flies will become a problem. Occasional insecticide treatment to control adult flies may be needed as well as occasional spot treatment of manure to control maggots. Removing the manure from under one row of cages at a time instead of cleaning an entire building will leave a stock of beneficial insects and mites to move into the new manure.
The manure that is removed should be thinly spread in fields, not piled outside the buildings.
If good sanitation practices are followed, less insecticide will be needed and that used will be more effective.
Fly control in open houses
Acceptable fly control in open houses requires strict attention to sanitation and manure management, supplemented with the use of insecticides as baits, residual sprays and spot treatment of manure for maggot control.
Baits consist of an insecticide and an attractant, which serves to draw flies to the insecticide. Start spreading the bait as soon as flies begin to be numerous. Place bait where flies congregate during the day Ã¢â‚¬â€ window ledges, doorways, on the floor between cages, etc.
During the first four or five days, scatter dry bait heavily enough that it can be seen. Continue to put out bait each day for the next week, using smaller amounts than for the first application. After the first 10 days, apply bait every two to four days to those places where the most flies were killed during the initial baiting.