Backyard farms are cropping up in neighborhoods everywhere! Chickens are the perfect livestock for a suburban setting. They don’t take up a lot of room, they eat scraps and bugs, and they produce eggs.
Can your backyard farm chickens serve a dual purpose? Can they add ant control to their list of farmyard duties? Let’s find out!
- Will Chickens Eat Ants?
- Will Chickens Solve an Ant Problem?
- Are Ants a Danger to Chickens?
- Will Chickens Attract Pests?
- What Method of Pest Control is Safe to Use Around Chickens?
- Prevent an Infestation
Will Chickens Eat Ants?
Yes, chickens will eat ants. Chickens are constantly searching the ground for food. These omnivorous birds will eat table scraps, seeds, fruits, vegetables, grains, and insects. They’re not picky eaters!
Will Chickens Solve an Ant Problem?
Chickens will happily eat all ants that are in their path. However, they don’t eat enough ants to actually serve as a method of pest control. In fact, chicken coops can attract ants. Also, some ants are dangerous to chickens.
Are Ants a Danger to Chickens?
Most commonly found insects are perfectly safe for chickens to snack on. However, it is important to keep your chicken coop clean and free of pests.
Chickens and Fire Ants
Fire ants are usually red or reddish-brown. Their ant hills are made of fluffy, loose soil above the ground.
Fire ants do pose a hazard to chickens. If you’ve ever been stung by a fire ant, you know how painful those stings can be! If aggravated, fire ants will swarm. This results in many, many painful stings.
A small or sick chicken could be seriously injured or killed if swarmed by fire ants.
If you spot a fire ant mound in or near your chicken enclosure, the mound must be removed immediately. Fire ants pose a risk to your chickens’ safety.
If there are ants directly on a chicken, very carefully brush the ants off the chicken, so as not to disturb the ants any further.
Chickens and Garden Ants
Garden ants or sugar ants are the most common type of ants found near homes and yards. Fortunately, they do not bite and are safe for the chickens to eat. Unfortunately, these varieties of ants can carry bacteria or salmonella.
A few garden ants can quickly turn into a full-blown infestation. They leave scent trails for other ants to follow. It is best to take action quickly if you notice any ants in or near your chicken coop.
Chickens and Carpenter Ants
Carpenter ants will not harm chickens, either. They are larger than fire ants or sugar ants and are dark-brown or black in color. They are known to bite, but their bites are not painful or frequent. They also do not swarm when aggravated.
They are called carpenter ants, because they nest in wood, instead of in mounds, like other ants. Because they can damage wooden structures, it is important to eliminate these pests as quickly as possible.
Will Chickens Attract Pests?
While it is true that chickens eat ants and other insects, they may attract more pests than they can eat. Ants are naturally drawn to food and water. A chicken coop is a good source for both.
The ants may be drawn to the chicken’s feed, table scraps put out for the chickens and any broken eggs.
Chicken coops can attract other pests, such as:
- Mice and rats
- Predators, such as coyotes or raccoons
It is important to be vigilant if you own chickens. Check inside and outside the coop regularly for pests and predators.
What Method of Pest Control is Safe to Use Around Chickens?
Since chickens eat everything, it is important to use safe, natural insecticides around the chicken coop.
Purchase food-grade diatomaceous earth. Diatomaceous earth is made from crushed diatoms or sea fossils. It feels soft to the touch but has microscopic, jagged edges that pierce an ant’s exoskeleton, leading to its death.
Diatomaceous earth is safe to use around your chickens. Sprinkle it around any ant hills, along any ant trails, and around the borders of the coop.
Mix white vinegar and water in a one-to-one ratio in a spray bottle. Spray any ants and ant mounds thoroughly with the mixture. Not only will the vinegar kill the ants, but it will erase their scent trails.
Ants dislike the smell of peppermint. This solution will not kill the ants, but it will repel them. Mix 10-20 drops of peppermint oil with two cups of water in a spray bottle. Spray this around the chicken coop, especially near the entrance, or anywhere you may have seen ants.
You could also plant mint plants around the chicken coop to deter ants.
Prevent an Infestation
Ants are attracted to the food and water in a chicken coop. In order to keep pests at bay, make sure to clean up any uneaten food scraps. Keep the inside of the coop clean of feces. Clean up any broken eggs immediately.
While chickens are fantastic for providing eggs, they are not effective as a method of pest control for ants. In fact, they may attract more ants to your yard. If you have backyard chickens, watch out for pests, and deal with them as soon as possible to keep your chickens healthy and safe.