Keeping a clean, critter-free chicken coop and run is important for your chickens’ health and happiness. Insects, bugs, and rodents carry disease and eat feed; snakes will eat eggs and even small baby chicks. Here is a quick guide to some of the most common critters and natural pest-controlling methods to keep them at bay. These solutions are perfectly safe to use around your backyard chickens.
These natural remedies might not be 100% effective and may need to be repeated several times, but they are safe and inexpensive and worth a try before you reach for chemicals or other toxins.
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1. Mice and Rats — Rodents don’t like the smell of mint. A natural way to get rid of mice and rats is to plant peppermint plant, or anything in the mint family, around your chicken coop and run. You can also cut fresh mint and hang it in your coop and toss some in your nesting boxes. Pine is another scent that can help repel mice. Cut pine boughs and put them in your coop along the outside walls on the floor for even greater rodent-proofing.
2. Snakes — Sprinkling sulfur and cayenne powder can help keep snakes away, as can spraying clove or cinnamon essential oil in your chicken coop and run.
3. Mites and Lice — Garlic is a scent that mites and lice don’t tolerate well. In addition to dusting a bit of food-grade Diatomaceous Earth on your chicken coop floor, nesting boxes bottoms and rubbing some on your chicken roosts, try a spray made with garlic juice, water and a few drops of aromatic essential oils such as lavender, rosemary, clove, thyme, anise, cinnamon, peppermint or nutmeg on your roosting bars and on your chickens themselves if you see evidence of external parasites.
4. Flies — Growing basil, citronella (lemon grass), dill, rosemary, mint or thyme plant around the run area or pick fresh herbs and scatter them in your coop to help repel flies. Hang vanilla-soaked cotton balls in mesh bags in your run or coop.
5. Spiders — Spiders don’t like the smell of mint so planting spearmint or peppermint around the coop can help keep spiders at bay. Leaving out citrus peels or sliced fresh garlic cloves is also a good way to deter spiders. Or plant some lavender around the run, since that’s another scent that’s not a favorite of spiders.
6. Ticks — Planting lavender around your coop or making lavender posies or sachets for the nesting boxes can help repel ticks. Guinea fowl will eat ticks, so if you are thinking of adding to your flock, why not consider a few guineas?
7. Mosquitoes — Like most pests, mosquitoes are not fans of strong aromatic herbs, so try planting some marigolds, rosemary, lavender, bee balm, basil, catnip or thyme around your chicken coop and run. Cloves stuck in half an orange or lemon also help repel mosquitoes.
Various herbs in and around your chicken coop, nesting boxes and run will go a long way toward keeping your chicken coop and run critter-free and a safe haven for your hens to sleep and lay their eggs.
What natural pest-controlling methods do you use in your chicken coop and run?
Originally published in 2014 and regularly vetted for accuracy.