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fly in cows eye

The Best Fly Control Plan to Protect Cattle

For farmers, when the weather gets warmer in the spring and summertime, a good dose of worry comes over them because they know that it’s fly season and they need to implement the right fly control measures or else their cattle will have a miserable time out on the pasture.

In order to keep cattle happy, you have to perform solid fly control. Flies can be bothersome pests to humans, but they can also be a tremendously annoying pest to cattle and livestock..

Flies make life miserable on the range for cattle and other livestock especially during the warmer parts of the year when flies flock to barnyards and pastures to feed on cattle.There are a variety of flies that like to use cattle as a host — horn flies, stable flies, face flies, horse flies and deer flies.  

Not only are all of these types of flies frustrating to try and control, but they can also be hazardous to the health of cattle because of their tendency to spread diseases.

When flies like the horse fly sink their sharp, blade-like mouthparts into a the flesh of cattle and feed on its blood, in serious cases, they can potentially cause issues with a cow’s digestive system and can even stunt the growth of your cattle.

With this being the case, it is imperative if you live amongst or work with livestock to protect both your horse and barn from fly invasions. Here at Solutions Pest & Lawn, we can equip you with all the fly control tools you need to protect your cattle and livestock from these irritating pests.


Characteristics of Flies Which Target Cattleflies found on cattle

To successfully carry out fly control and eliminate these parasitic flies, you have to know your enemy. While many types of flies can bug your horse during spring and summer, you will most likely be dealing with the common house fly, horse flies or stable flies.  


These types of flies thrive around barnyards where there is cattle and livestock because these places provide prime breeding and feeding locations due to the abundance of manure and compost present in these locations.


The typical life cycle of a fly is comprised for four main phases: 1) the egg, 2) the larvae, 3) the pupa, and finally 4) the adult. The time span that a fly goes from egg to adulthood ranges between 2 to 4 weeks long with adult flies living from as little as 2 weeks to as long a month.


Adult flies usually like to lay their eggs on on the manure which cattle leave behind or on any fresh organic material. Depending on the species of fly, the eggs will hatch within a few days and the larvae will begin to feed on the manure or waste where they have hatched.


The pupa phase of a fly is when the fly continues to develop its exoskeleton. Once the pupa phase transitions the fly into adulthood, the fly is then ready to feast on the flesh of horses.


Effective horse fly control is achieved by using a combination of fly control methods, from sanitation and environmental manipulation to the Solutions speciality, fly control insecticides


Step 1: Managing Cattle Manure

Before breaking out the fly control pesticides, it is important to engage in manual fly control by addressing what is attracting horse flies and stable flies to begin with. It’s pretty obvious from just the smell which occurs with horses in the barnyard that it’s manure. The piles of manure which horses leave behind is practically gold to flies because they use the manure to breed and eat.


Here’s a startling statistic:  the average 1,250lb. beef cow generating nearly 75lb of manure a day! As a result, properly managing the manure is vital if you want to be successful in your efforts to conduct fly control and eliminating those breeding spots.


Removing manure from barn stalls as quickly as possible is the first step to organic fly control. Not doing this and staying on top of clearing out manure in your cattle barns is a sure-fire way to create a breeding ground for horse flies.


The more manure removed from the stall the less desirable it will be to flies for depositing their eggs. Once the manure is removed, you will have to stow it as far away as possible from your farm.


Don’t just limit your manure clearing to the barns! You will also need to stay on top of manure that you find around the pasture and other areas where horses are most active. Areas where cattle regularly gather such as water troughs, shady areas, run-in sheds and gates should be cleaned on a weekly basis to hinder flies from breeding in the area.


Remember, it's easier and more effective to prevent fly breeding than it is to conduct fly control. So the quicker you can remove those habitats they find appealing, the less likely you are to see these pests.


Step 2: Fly Control Traps

Now it’s time to break out the insecticides. We recommend first starting out with laying out fly control traps to deal with those horse flies and stable flies.  


At Solutions, we recommend using a disposable fly trap like the Flies Be Gone fly trap. This fly control trap is an excellent way to control the fly population around your pasture and barn.


Simply unpack, add water and an attractant which comes with the package and hang it outside in an area with heavy activity. These traps have the potential to capture 20,000 flies and can be used for a period of several weeks.


Alternatively you can use fly baits such as QuickBayt Fly Bait.


flies on cows noseStep 3: Fly Control Spray Options

If you have a larger horse fly issue, it may be necessary to break out the big guns and conduct some serious fly control. We have a number of insecticides that can work on house flies and horse flies.


If you’re worried about chemicals harming your cattle, we even have green products that can work well. For instance, a liquid spray such as Essentria IC3 Natural Pesticide  can provide around your yard to deter horseflies from sticking around.


This is a natural product and is safe to apply around your plants and can even be sprayed directly upon cattle and animals as well as your own clothing to repel horseflies from biting and attacking.


For more serious fly infestations we recommend misting. While you can use a mister or a fogger for manual misting, we recommend installing a misting system. Using a misting system like Mistaway Mosquito Misting System is usually for mosquitoes but can also be used around farms and pastures to perform fly control. You can effectively control horse flies using a misting system and a high quality insecticide like Pystol Misting Concentrate.


Misting systems that we carry can be controlled using a remote control and customized to your liking. Once the system is installed it can give your around the clock fly control regardless of whether or not you are at the barn.


Step 4: Fly Control and Prevention for Cattle

After you have followed the previous three steps and implemented a thorough fly control treatment that is guaranteed to get rid of horse flies, stable flies or any other fly who dares intrude upon your property and hurt your cattle it's important to implement a daily cleaning and maintenance routine around your barn to protect your cattle and make it less likely for flies to come back in large infestations.


Make sure your waste areas are sealed with tight lids and are lined with plastic bags. This will reduce odors and attract fewer flies waiting to lay eggs around. If it is possible, keep garbage areas as far away as you can from the barn itself.


The area where you feed cattle can also be a prime breeding ground. Make sure you sweep out the feed room each day to avoid having spilled feed laying out to rot.  All horse feed should be tightly sealed in containers when not being eaten by the cattle.


While there is no fly control program which can completely eliminate flies from your barn permanently using the following steps and implementing a general fly control management program for your barn can help reduce the horse fly population. Not only will your cattle be much more content without those flying parasites living on their bodies and being feasted upon, they will be much healthier and will produce for you the quality agricultural you need to make a living.


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