Thursday, October 18, 2012

Controlling flies on a small farm

Look what happened to fly into our little chicken coop area yesterday.

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We are not sure what they are but think Daisy, Donald, and…whatever another girl ducks name has found a new home on The Simple Farm.

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I’m just kidding about them flying in. We have been really concerned over the last year or so about the number of flies that swarm around our cows. We’ve tried non toxic stuff like making faces at the pests. We’ve tried spraying vinegar over the cows. We’ve even gone so far as to sit as swat the flies in the more horrid times of the day.

One of our farming friends says she controls flies with these beauties. These are Muscovy ducks. They are a duck that lives on land and are quite useful for pest control.

Ducks 007The chickens ran around a bit but left the ducks alone mostly.Ducks 009

In our discussion with our friend she sent over this information:


Here is an article from a study down with large operations from a while back.

This is from another article on the net -

"Another biological control is use of Muscovy ducks—a breed of meat duck that spends its time on land (rather than water) eating insects. Some small farmers claim that four or five ducks per cow virtually eliminates a fly problem. According to Dennis French, DVM (Louisiana State University), in research trials, Muscovy ducks removed adult house flies 30 times faster than fly traps, fly paper rolls or bait cards. Ducks in cages with 100 flies took only 0.6 hours to remove 90 percent of the flies compared to 15.3 hours for the most effective commercial bait devices. “In other studies, the ducks lived for 12 weeks in pens with calves, without injury or any additional feed for the ducks. They ate about 25 house flies per 15 minute observation period when fly populations were low to moderate,” says French."

This is from homesteading today site -

"I've used Muscovy ducks to control flies for several years. It works well. The Muscovies roam widely. They follow the cattle, waiting for manure to hit the ground. Then they scatter it, looking for something edible. The manure dries out and won't hatch flies.
The cattle learned how else the Muscovies can help. They lie down to chew their cuds and let the Muscovies pick flies off of them. That's the best horse fly control. You can often see a cow turn her head or stretch her neck so a duck can reach a biting fly."

I the winter I give them whole grains (wheat and barley) and 2nd cut alfalfa/grass mix hay (small amounts in a box/mini manger) plus water to drink. Care about the same in winter, but less care in summer. In summer I let them roam the yard, set out a 2 1/2 gallon bucket for water, and some screenings or some whole grain for backup feed. They eat a lot less as they eat more insects and vegetation. When first turned out they scout the yard for insects. they also eat grasshoppers, mosquitoes, moths, slugs and whatever else they find.

I lock them up at night for their safety.


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Rosebud’s only comment was:  You had me at “Control Flies.”

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Welcome to the farm our fine feathered friends. Eat up while the bugs are still out.


  1. We've been raising muscoveys for about four years now. The males are huge and so they aren't easily eaten by our resident fox. Another plus. They do seem to control the flies around the barn. Our cattle are usually way out to pasture in fly season, so they can't help much there. They also love fresh corn on the cob. Ask me how I know. :)

    1. We have a dreaded fly and mosquito problem around our place. We are hoping these will help. We'll watch out of the fresh corn sneakers.

  2. I have a friend who has muscoveys as well. I went over recently and saw that they had fenced in all their chickens (with netting on top). I asked why, and she said because the ducks were killing the chickens! Not sure if that is the usual, but do be on the look out for that.


    1. Thanks for the heads up. These ducks were raised with a flock of chickens so hopefully they will behave.

  3. Interesting...we just got goats and have noticed a lot of flies, lots more than normal. I'll have to tell my husband about this.

  4. This was great - I've considered muscovy duck here, but hadn't really thought about the fly problem. We get lots of late summer flies. I would love you to link up with me at:

    1. I'm hoping they do wonders. Even if they just minimize flies I'll feel it's a success. I'll check it out and connect up with you.

  5. I take it these aren't the kind of ducks you'd want to cuddle? Following around with the cows mmm LOL I have heard these are the best ducks to have on a farm too.They aren't great to look at but really good to have.