So what is flystrike?

The scientific name for flystrike is Myiasis.  It is also is sometimes called fly blown.  Myiasis can strike animals and humans alike .  Flies are attracted to exposed tissue.  It can be through odor such as fecal material, vomit,  infection, open wounds or sores, eye drainage, cuts and even scrapes.  The worst part is that is happens very quickly.  Flies lay their eggs and within eight to twelve hours, maggots emerge to begin eating on the affected flesh.  This is irritating and painful to those inflicted.  This typically occurs in mid to late summer and can be fatal if not caught quickly enough.  It moves very rapidly and can happen both indoors and outside. In the US, human cases of Myiasis are a rarity and are more common in South America and Africa.
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Preventing Flystrike

  • Inspect your flock daily.
  • Keep your flock’s bottoms clean.. If needed, bathe them.  Treat vent gleet and feather picking/missing feathers. Treat any open wounds.
  • Keep the coop clean and dry.  You might consider avoiding the deep litter method in warm weather.
  • Utilize fresh blends of dried herbs and flowers such as Nesting Box Blend from Treats for Chickens.
  • Try dusting your coop with food grade Diatomaceous Earth.
  • Try hanging the tree shaped Vanilla Air Fresheners in your coop and run-flies supposidly hate these.
  • Run a fan creating a gentle breeze through the coop and run.
  • Add screens to your coop’s window and doors.
  • Close the coop doors at night.
  • Plant some fresh herbs around the coop-Flies avoid Mint, Lavender, Basil and Rosemary

Step One in Flystrike Treatment – Clean the Wound

Trim away the hair, wool, or fur and clean out the wound removing all maggots –  As with Botfly attacks, cleaning out the wound will result in a deep open hole that must be kept clean and treated daily.

Step Two – Isolate

Isolate the rabbit, chicken or sheep, confining them to an area where you can monitor the progress carefully and administer flystrike treatment on a daily basis.  I honestly don’t know how large ranches with hundreds of sheep manage a case of flystrike. I would hope they would be diligent about the care and the wound treatment. In a homestead situation it is something manageable, although time consuming and unpleasant.

Step Three – Daily Wound Care

Keep the animal in a dry, well ventilated area. If there are still loose bowel movements, treat this also. It is important to keep the feces from sticking to the animal’s genital area.

My three step wound care treatment for warbles in rabbits worked in the case of my friend’s ewe with flystrike. Flystrike treatment will also include daily cleaning and removal of any manure and feces from the area, in order to not attract more flies.

  1. Clean out the wound with sterile saline solution.
  2. Wash out the area with an antibacterial soap. The affected area may be tender, so handle the wound as gently as possible.
  3. Gently dry the affected area

Apply a triple antibiotic cream (one that does not contain a pain reliever) inside and outside of the wound.

In livestock, using a fly repellent cream, such as Swat, around the affected area will also deter more flies from trying to attack the wound.

In less extreme cases, where the larvae and maggots have not invaded the tissue yet, the treatment is similar, yet not as messy.

Trim away the fur, wool and hair. Clean the area and remove all maggots. Flush the area with a gentle soapy solution to cleanse the skin without causing further irritation. Pat the skin dry and allow it to air dry completely. Apply a fly repellent ointment, such as SWAT, to the irritated skin. This will help the skin heal and also make the area less inviting to the flies.

More Treatment Options..

~ Sit hen in bowl of warm saline and keep her in it for 10 -15 minutes. This will give the wound an initial cleaning and will drown many of the maggots. Change the saline solution a couple of times. You may find that the maggots will thrash about in the saline bath.

~ Carefully trim the feathers around the wound with blunt ended scissors and then remove as many maggots as you can with a pair of tweezers,

~ With a syringe, flush the wound thoroughly with fresh saline solution.

~ Pat dry. Do not use anything that will leave linty bits in the wound.

~ Isolate hen. Keep her warm and encourage her to drink, syringing water into her beak if she is reluctant to drink of her own accord.

~ Repeat the above two or three times a day till there are no maggots left.

~ After the first soak, you could give an initial flush out with a weak hydrogen peroxide solution, but dont use this too often as it is rather harsh and over use will interfere with the formation of granulation tissue.

~ Another option is to use a weak iodine solution, with just enough added to water so that it looks like milkless tea.

~ If using a saline solution, sea salt is a better option than table salt, as it has not been refined.

~ It is best to keep the wound open and dry, so that the air can get down into it. Most of the harmful wound bacteria are anaerobic and they thrive in closed conditions.

~ Avoid using wet ointments as flies find the wound and lay their eggs deep in the ointment.

~ It is essential that all maggots are removed, as they will eat healthy flesh as well as dead tissue.These are not the specially bred and clinically reared maggots used in the healing and debridement of gangrene or necrotic tissue etc in clinical situations.The maggots are full of bacteria and secrete toxins which are largely responsible for the death of affected hens.

Heavy rains, manure, mud and spilled animal and poultry feed all attract flies and a fly bloom. Do whatever you can to manage this. I know it can be quite a challenge when heavy rains are followed by a warm day. It seems that you can’t get the area cleaned up fast enough before the flies are hatching and are everywhere. Improving the drainage to the area might help, along with not allowing manure and spilled feed to go without being cleaned up. If your chickens, rabbits or other livestock have a case of runny poop, it makes them immediately a target for flies and flystrike. Flystrike can result in death of the animal, so it is advisable to keep an eye on your livestock especially during moist, warm, fly filled days.

Make sure to keep some fly spray around, click HERE for an organic homemade recipe.


Good Luck and God Bless.

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