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More on chickens, insects and pests

Posted by GoatWorld on April 10, 2001 at 06:40:36:

In Reply to: Chickens posted by Freud on April 08, 2001 at 04:39:30:

Hello all,

I don't think anyone minds if we stray a bit from the subject because it does have something to do with goats indirectly.

I'll give my opinions here in order for anyone interested - I think that some of you have some great ideas too and please keep in mind I'm not the final word on any of this but am speaking from experience only.

Flies - these continue to be a very common problem for persons with chickens or not. Not only are they pesky, but they can carry the pinkeye bacteria. There are possibly two ways to go about getting a handle on your local fly population - one way is by getting a bug zapper unit and modifying it to include flies, tempting them with either a piece of meat of sugar coating the lightbulb in a bug zapper. Another way is through the use of Diatomaceous Earth although I have heard controversy on its use and have not used it myself.

It is easy to blame chickens, ducks, geese, etc. for flies but they are really not the only culprits. A goats fecal matter will attract flies and other insects just as easily. There were primarily two reasons for me to get poultry again - spiders and ticks. Flies I can live with but ticks and spiders - I hate em' and I'm deathly afraid of spiders (even though I'm a big strapping kraut able to easily lift twice my body weight). Around here, these are not your common small spiders either - anything over the size of a quarter looks like a tarantula to me.

I've noticed the spider and tick population has decreased significantly in the last couple of years. Ticks have too. Keeping in mind that the majority of our chickens are free-range, that means they can be with the goats if they want. I've actually seen a few of the roosters (mostly the crested polish breed) get on the goats backs' and scratch for insects (ticks and lice I'm guessing) so that is one benefit.

I believe it was either Vicki V. or Flo that mentioned that the chickens will ingest the worms and pass them back through to the goats. I had never really thought of this but I do know that we use Piperazine-17 in the chickens (and goats water) and this is supposed to kill a variety of worms. We have not really had that much of a problem with the worms to be honest. We are using Cydectin primarily.

Ducks and guineas seems to be the best for ticks as they forage alot through the grass - ducks actually eat the grass and their fecal matter does wonders for the flora. We have some of those "chick days" specials - Broiler X Cross - let me tell you, if you want an aggressive insect eating machine, get you a dozen or two of these and let them live. (I believe they are meant to be dresses at eight weeks). These birds will eat anything and everything they can find and lay off white eggs that are huge (we recently had one that measured 3-1/2 inches in length).

If you have your chickens (and other poultry) running free range, I'd suggest using an LGD or two. Our Great Pyrs and Weimaraner have done excellent in helping to protect our flocks. They have to be trained early though to not chase them but then that is the benefit of those Broiler Crosses - they will stand up to a dog. The greatest predator threats to poultry and fowl are owls, raccons, foxes, coyotes and stray dogs.

Snakes - guineas are known to kill snakes as well as peafowl. A good flock of guineas is almost a neccessity if you lived in the Ozarks. Peafowl on the other hand will do a job on the much larger snakes but of course are much more expensive. Of course they are very beautiful when they start the feather training. Chickens could care less about snakes and will end up victims - at least aound here in Copperhead and Pygmy rattler country. The snake to watch out for though for all of them is the dreaded Coachwhip - these snakes will strike you like a bullwhip.

There are drawbacks to free-range: egg collection, the inability to control the range and chicken dukey on your front door step. And of course when you have visitors over, if they leave the windows in their car down they might get a going away surprise. So as of this moment, we are basically running both free-range and penned. Some say free range broilers and friers are very tough too for meat. I really don't know about that part of it.

Geese - if you like geese and are thinking they will help control insects, forget it. They are not insect eaters. They are mainly shrubs and grasses. If anything, they will bring on more insects such as flies. Turkeys - these are pretty aggressive in getting flying insects. And it is kind of entertaining watching them run the flying insects down. But when they have a calling to mother nature, it is not a pretty site.

It's been a long time coming but we are about to launch another "world" site - DuckWorld. It will be a web site very similar to GoatWorld and deal primarily with ducks, waterfowl and poultry in general. We have several hundred breeding ducks and are working with an established waterfowl breeder to keep the SW Missouri area alive in the industry. Now my question for you - need any ducks, geese, swans or eggs? LOL

Hopefully this will help to somewhat answer any of the questions you might have. If you are looking to make money from chickens, definitely go with penning them. And I think Michael mentioned Rhode Island Reds - yes. These are hardy birds that are a longtime favorite and are excellent layers of brown eggs. Other good ones are Leghorns, Californians, Wyandottes, and Plymouths just to name a few.

Best regards,

Gary Pfalzbot

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