PRODUCTION

Cattle Fly Prevention: Fly Control, Made Easy


March 17, 2022

Starting your fly control management early in the season and extending it later through the fall is the best way to prevent an outbreak beyond your control. A multi-faceted approach can keep your calves and cows healthy throughout every stage of their life.

Settling Your Beef with Different Fly Species

Close up of cow eye with fly near it
Cattles flies are more than a nuisance for cattle, they can cause severe health effects in your calves and cattle and affect your bottom line. Identifying your enemy is one of the first steps toward developing an effective fly control strategy.

  • Horn flies – These tiny critters measure just 3/16” and prefer to hang around cattle’s poll, back, sides, or on the belly during warm summer afternoons. They feed on blood and can feed/bite about 30 times per day. Adult females deposit eggs in fresh cattle manure, where they will mature. Eggs hatch after one week. When mature, horn flies can travel several miles to reach another host.
  • Stable flies – Stable flies feed on blood, primarily on the front legs of cattle and lead to painful bites. Cattle may stomp their legs, stand in water, or huddle at pasture corners to prevent fly bites. Females lay eggs in decaying and moist organic matter. Their life cycle is between 14 and 24 days. When mature, stable flies can fly at least 10 miles in search of a host.
  • Face flies – A face fly and a housefly have a similar appearance but are slightly larger and darker. While they do not bite, face flies feed on animal fluid secretions found on the haircoat or wounds of calves or cows. Face flies are generally found around the animal’s muzzle, mouth, and eyes.

Horseflies can cause irritation, blood loss, reduced weight gains, and reduced milk production. Face flies can damage eye tissues and increase vulnerability to eye pathogens and vector Moraxella Bovis, the cause of pinkeye. Stable flies can cause weight gain losses.

Fly populations peak in the summer, especially with dry and warm weather. In the fall, the fly population declines but flies in manure can overwinter through the season and come back with a vengeance in the spring. All-year prevention and control is the best strategy.

Controlling Fly Populations: What You Need

Herd of young cows in field

Don’t wait until the summer is in full swing. Controlling fly populations well before they appear is the most effective way to keep those pesky flies away. Prevention and control strategies will vary by the farm but generally involve a multi-pronged approach.

Here is what you may need for the most effective fly control:

  • Larvicide or insect growth regulator
  • Fly tags
  • Pour-ons
  • Dust bag/cattle rubs
  • Sprays
  • Feed additives
  • Ear tags
  • Vet Gun
  • Walk-through fly traps
  • Fly predators

Beyond biological and chemical control methods to reduce the fly population on your farm, prevention should be the first line of defense against any type of fly.

Waste Management: Your First-Line of Defense

Tractor spreading manure in field

An average cow produces between 65 and 75 pounds of manure per day. Regardless of the size of your herd, handling the waste can be a laborious and time-consuming task. To make matters worse, fresh piles of manure are perfect breeding locations for cattle flies.

A fly life cycle can last between 10 to 21 days. Regularly removing or spreading the breeding materials such as manure or moist hay is essential.

Evenly spreading manure across your land is a great way to give your soil nitrogen and phosphate and improve the manure’s drying process to prevent flies in the first place. If necessary, drag your fields to evenly spread the waste and reduce piles of manure.

Clean areas where your cattle normally spends its time, such as water troughs, feeding areas, gates, and shady spots. Cleaning areas with heavy foot traffic at least once a week can help stop the spread of flies before they become a bigger problem.

Fly Control Strategies

Black Angus Cow with blue ear tag

When creating your fly management plan, you need to consider several factors such as herd size, pasture size, weather, and type of flies.

Fly Tags

Insecticidal ear tags are convenient methods of reducing horn fly populations. However, some fly populations can become resistant to the pyrethroids class of insecticide, requiring cattle producers to rotate between an organophosphate tag. Cows usually require two tags and calves only need one.

Wait until your cows have about 200 flies per animal before applying the insecticide ear tags. When applied too early, the efficacy of the tags is lowered. Remove the tags after about three to five months to reduce resistance to the insecticide.

Dominator Ear Tags with Insecticide, 20 pk.

Not available online.

{{storeQuantity}} in stock in {{wg.store.city}}

Limited stock in {{wg.store.city}} Check nearby stores

Out of stock in {{wg.store.city}} Check nearby stores

Not carried in {{wg.store.city}} Check nearby stores

Cannot be sold in {{wg.store.city}} Check nearby stores

Pour-Ons

Chemical pour-ons are convenient to use for horn flies and can be an effective supplement with fly tags. Follow the label directions for pouring on the liquid. Pour-ons will require several applications throughout the fly season.

Ivermectin Pour On 250 ml.

Not available online.

{{storeQuantity}} in stock in {{wg.store.city}}

Limited stock in {{wg.store.city}} Check nearby stores

Out of stock in {{wg.store.city}} Check nearby stores

Not carried in {{wg.store.city}} Check nearby stores

Cannot be sold in {{wg.store.city}} Check nearby stores

Dust Bag/Cattle Rubs

Dust bags are excellent and affordable tools to reduce horn fly numbers but only when cattle are forced to use them. Properly place dust bags where cattle can bump into them, allowing the spread of insecticidal dust as they walkthrough.

Fly Control Dust Bag for Cattle, A-Shape

Not available online.

{{storeQuantity}} in stock in {{wg.store.city}}

Limited stock in {{wg.store.city}} Check nearby stores

Out of stock in {{wg.store.city}} Check nearby stores

Not carried in {{wg.store.city}} Check nearby stores

Cannot be sold in {{wg.store.city}} Check nearby stores

Co-Ral 1% Livestock Dust, 12.5 lbs.

Not available online.

{{storeQuantity}} in stock in {{wg.store.city}}

Limited stock in {{wg.store.city}} Check nearby stores

Out of stock in {{wg.store.city}} Check nearby stores

Not carried in {{wg.store.city}} Check nearby stores

Cannot be sold in {{wg.store.city}} Check nearby stores

Permectrin Fly and Louse Dust, 12.5 lbs

Not available online.

{{storeQuantity}} in stock in {{wg.store.city}}

Limited stock in {{wg.store.city}} Check nearby stores

Out of stock in {{wg.store.city}} Check nearby stores

Not carried in {{wg.store.city}} Check nearby stores

Cannot be sold in {{wg.store.city}} Check nearby stores

Sprays

Insecticidal sprays can be a great way at lowering the fly population on your farm. They can provide control for 7 to 21 days. However, it can take a lot of time to apply if you have a large grazing area where cows are spread out. Animal sprays require re-application. Livestock owners can use low-pressure or mist-blower sprayers to spread the insecticide every week.

Flys-X for Livestock Fly Spray, 1 qt.

Not available online.

{{storeQuantity}} in stock in {{wg.store.city}}

Limited stock in {{wg.store.city}} Check nearby stores

Out of stock in {{wg.store.city}} Check nearby stores

Not carried in {{wg.store.city}} Check nearby stores

Cannot be sold in {{wg.store.city}} Check nearby stores

Feed Additives

Feed additives are an effective horn fly control method. These feed additives contain insect growth regulators, which go through the cow and end up in their manure. Here, the horn fly will lay its eggs. The insect growth regulator breaks up the life cycle at the pupae stage.

Generally, manufacturers recommend feeding cattle feed-fly control minerals 30 days before the last frost and 30 days after the first frost. Using it from early spring through late fall ensures you prevent flies from overwintering in the pupae stage.

Purina Wind & Rain Mineral with Fly Control 50 lb.

Not available online.

{{storeQuantity}} in stock in {{wg.store.city}}

Limited stock in {{wg.store.city}} Check nearby stores

Out of stock in {{wg.store.city}} Check nearby stores

Not carried in {{wg.store.city}} Check nearby stores

Cannot be sold in {{wg.store.city}} Check nearby stores

Purina Wind and Rain Altosid Fly Tub 225 lb.

Not available online.

{{storeQuantity}} in stock in {{wg.store.city}}

Limited stock in {{wg.store.city}} Check nearby stores

Out of stock in {{wg.store.city}} Check nearby stores

Not carried in {{wg.store.city}} Check nearby stores

Cannot be sold in {{wg.store.city}} Check nearby stores

Fly Predators

Fly predators are natural methods of controlling fly populations. Spiders, chickens, and Muscovy ducks love to munch on bugs, including any flies that can in their path. While this won’t completely control your probably, it can be a part of the solution.

For cattle in confined areas such as a feedlot, small, non-stinging wasps can feed on larvae and lay eggs in pupae, essentially preventing flies from maturing and new ones from forming. However, these fly predators are not widely available.

If you do manage to get a good supply, spread them in manure piles at dusk and replenish your wasp population about once per month from April to September. Regular fly control is the only way to stop their life cycle dead in its tracks.

Walk-Through Fly Traps

Walk-through fly traps are an eco-friendly way to remove flies from your cattle. Horn flies are commonly found on the sides and backs of cattle. As cattle walk through the fly traps, the flies are brushed off and trapped in screens.

Walk-through fly traps must be placed in an area where a cow is forced to use it, similar to dust bags and cattle rubs. This can be in areas they have to walk through to get water or food.

It Takes a Village: Community Management Strategies

Arial shot of farm and field

Working with your neighbors is one of the best ways to manage your fly problems without hurting the local economy. Speaking with neighbors as close as a mile from your cattle can be a good idea to come up with a plan against a common enemy that can easily fly from farm to farm.

Fly Control, Made Easy with Wilco Farm Stores

Livestock producers need convenient and affordable fly control solutions. Wilco Farm Stores provides optimum control supplies for controlling flies, including feed additives, sprays, dust bags, fly traps, and much more. Keep your bugs bug-free with Wilco Farm Stores.

Category
Author
Tags