Managing Flies In Cattle


Introduction

Unfortunately, Moisture + Manure = Flies!

Flies can be a major problem for cattle farmers, as they can greatly impact the health and productivity of the cattle. Flies can cause irritation and stress to the cattle, leading to decreased weight gain, milk production and overall health. They can also transmit diseases and parasites to cattle, which can cause serious health problems and even death. In addition to health issues, flies can also cause economic losses for farmers due to decreased productivity and the cost of fly control measures. Overall, managing flies in cattle is an important aspect of maintaining the health and productivity of the herd.

Different types of flies that affect cattle

There are several types of flies that can affect cattle and cause problems for farmers. Some of the most common types of flies that affect cattle include:

  1. House flies: These flies are common around livestock facilities, they can cause irritation to cattle and can spread diseases such as salmonellosis and E. coli.
  2. Horn flies: These flies are small and are usually found on the back and sides of cattle. They can cause irritation and stress to cattle and can lead to decreased weight gain and milk production.
  3. Stable flies: These flies are similar in appearance to house flies and are also commonly found around livestock facilities. They can cause severe irritation to cattle and can lead to decreased weight gain, milk production and overall health.
  4. Face flies: These flies are slightly larger than house flies and are usually found around the head and eyes of cattle. They can cause irritation and stress to cattle and can lead to decreased weight gain and milk production.
  5. Blow flies: These flies are larger than other types of flies that affect cattle and are usually found around manure and other decaying organic matter. They can spread diseases such as mastitis and can cause irritation and stress to cattle.
  6. Black flies: These flies are known to feed on the blood of cattle, this can cause irritation and stress to cattle, and can lead to decreased weight gain and milk production.

It’s important to note that different types of flies are attracted to different conditions and climates, so it’s important to identify the specific types of flies that are affecting the herd and to adjust control measures accordingly.

The fly’s life cycle, including breeding and feeding habits

The life cycle of a fly typically consists of four stages: egg, larva, pupa, and adult. The length of the life cycle can vary depending on the species of fly and environmental conditions.

  1. Egg: Female flies lay eggs, which are usually small and white. They can lay their eggs in various environments such as manure, garbage, or other decaying organic matter.
  2. Larva: After hatching, the fly enters the larval stage, also known as the maggot stage. During this stage, the fly feeds on decaying organic matter and grows quickly.
  3. Pupa: After the larva stage, the fly enters the pupal stage. During this stage, the fly undergoes metamorphosis and develops into an adult fly.
  4. Adult: After the pupal stage, the fly emerges as an adult. The adult fly feeds on liquids such as nectar, and for some species, blood. Adult flies can breed and lay eggs shortly after emerging.

Feeding habits vary depending on the species of fly, some flies feed on liquids such as nectar, while others feed on decaying organic matter or blood. The feeding habits of a fly can also change depending on the stage of their life cycle. For example, larvae feed on decaying organic matter, while adult flies feed on liquids.

It’s important to note that the breeding and feeding habits of flies can vary widely depending on the species and the environmental conditions. Understanding the life cycle, breeding and feeding habits of the specific types of flies that are affecting the cattle herd can help to identify and implement effective control measures.

Tips for keeping flies away from cattle

  1. Maintaining proper sanitation: One of the most effective ways to keep flies away from cattle is to maintain proper sanitation. This includes regularly cleaning and removing manure and other decaying organic matter from the cattle facilities. This can help to reduce the number of flies that are attracted to the area and can help to prevent flies from laying eggs.
  2. Reducing standing water: Standing water is a breeding ground for many types of flies, so reducing standing water can help to keep flies away from cattle. This includes fixing leaks, cleaning gutters, and removing any other sources of standing water such as puddles or low-lying areas.
  3. Keep windows and doors closed: Flies are attracted to light, so keeping windows and doors closed can help to keep flies away from cattle. This can be especially important during the summer months when flies are most active.
  4. Use of fly traps: Fly traps can be used to catch and kill flies, this can help to reduce the number of flies in the area and can help to keep flies away from cattle.
  5. Use of screens: Screens can be used to keep flies out of cattle facilities. This can help to reduce the number of flies that come into contact with the cattle and can help to keep flies away from the animals.
  6. Keep the barn clean and dry: Flies are attracted to moist and dirty environments, so keeping the barn clean and dry can help to keep flies away from cattle. This includes removing manure and other decaying organic matter from the barn on a regular basis and ensuring that the barn is well-ventilated.
  7. Use of fly repellents: Fly repellents can be used to keep flies away from cattle, this can include natural repellents like essential oils and citrus or chemical repellents.

It’s important to remember that flies can be attracted to different conditions depending on the species, so it’s important to identify the specific types of flies that are affecting the cattle herd and to adjust the control measures accordingly. It’s also important to regularly monitor the fly population and to adjust the control measures as needed.

Fly control products and their effectiveness

There are many fly control products available on the market, including sprays, dusts, baits, and traps. These products can be effective in controlling flies and keeping them away from cattle, but it’s important to choose the right product for the specific type of fly that is affecting the herd.

  1. Sprays: Fly sprays are a common type of fly control product that can be used to control flies and keep them away from cattle. These sprays can contain chemicals or natural ingredients such as essential oils, and can be applied directly to the cattle or to the surrounding area.
  2. Dusts: Fly dusts are another type of fly control product that can be used to control flies and keep them away from cattle. These dusts contain chemicals or natural ingredients such as diatomaceous earth and can be applied directly to the cattle or to the surrounding area.
  3. Baits: Fly baits are a type of fly control product that can be used to control flies by attracting and killing them. These baits can contain chemicals or natural ingredients such as sugar and can be applied to the surrounding area.
  4. Traps: Fly traps are a type of fly control product that can be used to control flies by attracting and killing them. These traps can be used in a variety of ways, such as sticky tapes, sticky fly papers and electric fly traps.
  5. Repellents: Repellents can be used to keep flies away from cattle, this can include natural repellents such as essential oils and citrus or chemical repellents.

It’s important to note that fly control products can be effective in controlling flies and keeping them away from cattle, but it’s important to choose the right product for the specific type of fly that is affecting the herd. It’s also important to use the products according to the manufacturer’s instructions and to regularly monitor the fly population to adjust the control measures as needed.

It’s also important to remember that using fly control products alone may not be enough to effectively control flies and it’s important to implement a comprehensive control program that includes a combination of different control measures such as maintaining proper sanitation, reducing standing water, and using fly control products.

Techniques for trapping and killing flies

  1. Sticky tapes and fly papers: These are some of the most commonly used methods of trapping and killing flies. They work by using a sticky substance that traps the flies when they come into contact with it. These methods can be used in various places such as barns, stables, and other areas where flies are a problem.
  2. Electric fly traps: These traps work by using an electric grid that attracts and kills flies. They can be used in various places such as barns, stables, and other areas where flies are a problem.
  3. Baited traps: These traps use a bait to attract and kill flies. The bait can be a food source or a chemical that mimics the scent of a food source. These traps can be used in various places such as barns, stables, and other areas where flies are a problem.
  4. Insecticide sprays: These sprays can be used to kill flies by directly spraying them. Insecticide sprays can be used in various places such as barns, stables, and other areas where flies are a problem.
  5. Natural predators: Some farmers use fly predators such as nematodes, beetles, and parasitoids to control flies. These predators feed on the eggs, larvae, or pupae of flies, reducing the number of adult flies in an area.

It’s important to note that different types of flies may have different preferences when it comes to traps, baits, and insecticides. Therefore, it’s important to identify the specific types of flies that are affecting the herd and to adjust the trapping and killing methods accordingly. It’s also important to regularly monitor the fly population and to adjust the control measures as needed.

The use of fly predators

Fly predators are insects or other organisms that feed on the eggs, larvae, or pupae of flies, reducing the number of adult flies in an area. The use of fly predators can be an effective way to control flies and keep them away from cattle.

  1. Nematodes: These are small worms that feed on the eggs and larvae of flies. They can be applied directly to the soil or other breeding sites where flies are present.
  2. Beetles: Some species of beetles feed on the eggs and larvae of flies, reducing the number of adult flies in an area.
  3. Parasitoids: These are small insects that lay their eggs on the eggs or larvae of flies. When the parasitoid eggs hatch, the larvae consume the fly eggs or larvae, reducing the number of adult flies in an area.

It’s important to note that using fly predators alone may not be enough to effectively control flies and it’s important to implement a comprehensive control program that includes a combination of different control measures such as maintaining proper sanitation, reducing standing water, and using fly control products. Additionally, the use of fly predators is most effective when used in conjunction with other fly control methods, such as trapping and killing flies.

It’s also important to research the specific fly predators that are available for the fly species that affect the herd, as not all predators will be effective for all types of flies. The timing of release and the environment also play a big role on the success of using fly predators.

Diseases that flies can transmit to cattle

Flies can transmit a variety of diseases to cattle, which can cause serious health problems and even death. Some of the most common diseases that flies can transmit to cattle include:

  1. Mastitis: This is an infection of the mammary gland that can be caused by flies such as stable flies and horn flies. These flies can transmit bacteria to the mammary gland when they bite the cow, causing inflammation and infection.
  2. Pinkeye: This is an infection of the eye that can be caused by flies such as face flies. These flies can transmit the bacteria Moraxella bovis to the eye, causing inflammation and infection.
  3. Summer mastitis: This is an infection of the mammary gland that can be caused by flies such as stable flies and horn flies. These flies can transmit bacteria to the mammary gland when they bite the cow, causing inflammation and infection.
  4. Salmonellosis: This is a bacterial infection that can be caused by flies such as house flies. These flies can transmit the bacteria Salmonella to cattle, causing diarrhea, fever, and dehydration.
  5. E. coli: This is a bacterial infection that can be caused by flies such as house flies. These flies can transmit the bacteria E. coli to cattle, causing diarrhea and dehydration.
  6. Blood-borne parasites: Flies such as black flies are known to feed on the blood of cattle, they can transmit blood-borne parasites such as Leucocytozoon and Babesia. These parasites can cause anemia, weakness, and in some cases, death.

It’s important to note that different types of flies can transmit different diseases, so it’s important to identify the specific types of flies that are affecting the herd and to take the necessary precautions to protect the cattle from these diseases. It’s also important to consult a veterinarian for guidance on preventing and treating these diseases.

Tips for preventing fly-borne diseases in cattle

  1. Implementing a fly control program: One of the most effective ways to prevent fly-borne diseases in cattle is to implement a comprehensive fly control program. This can include maintaining proper sanitation, reducing standing water, using fly control products, and using fly predators.
  2. Using fly control products: Fly control products, such as sprays, dusts, baits, and traps can be effective in controlling flies and keeping them away from cattle. It’s important to choose the right product for the specific type of fly that is affecting the herd and to use the products according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  3. Using fly repellents: Repellents can be used to keep flies away from cattle, this can include natural repellents such as essential oils and citrus or chemical repellents.
  4. Regular veterinary check-ups: Regular veterinary check-ups can help to detect fly-borne diseases early, which can make treatment more effective. This includes monitoring the cattle for signs of illness and testing for specific diseases.
  5. Vaccination: Some diseases that are transmitted by flies such as pinkeye and salmonellosis can be prevented by vaccination. Consult with a veterinarian to determine which vaccinations are appropriate for the herd.
  6. Keep the herd healthy: A healthy herd is less likely to be affected by fly-borne diseases. This includes providing proper nutrition and management practices, such as adequate shade and ventilation, and ensuring that the cattle have access to clean water.
  7. Keep a close watch on the herd: Regularly observing the herd can help to identify any signs of fly-borne diseases early. This includes monitoring the cattle for signs of illness, changes in behavior, or decreased weight gain or milk production.

It’s important to remember that fly-borne diseases can have serious consequences for cattle and it’s important to proactively manage the situation.

Final Points

Pretty basic, really. Tips to keep flies down range from management changes to chemical sprays. I believe that drying agents are the best way to go, even when using chemical sprays. It is known that keeping moisture in manure to less than 40% will significantly decrease fly populations.

Adding rock phosphate to the gutter will help do this as will increased fibrous material like straw, sawdust, chopped newspaper, etc. This will also increase the carbon to nitrogen ratio, which will help soil microorganisms decompose manure applied to land.

Keeping youngstock well-bedded will also help. Pens with “soup” for the animals to stand in are the most offensive. Hauling out manure from the gutter more than the typical once a week in the summer will reduce manure build-up and associated fly habitat.

As for helping keep your animals comfortable, you can always use commercial sprays. If you are certified organic, you are limited to pyrethrum-type sprays which give a knockdown effect, with very little residual effectiveness. Flies will build up resistance to any spray used repeatedly because of their quick reproducing abilities. Pyrethrums are allowed if used infrequently and with other management corrections. These cannot be “extended” (diluted) with diesel fuel on certified farms.

The best true alternative to commercial sprays that I’ve ever witnessed is the use of pulverized limestone. This is liberally dusted onto the backs and sides of the cows. It helps keep the cow from showing moisture on the skin and thus she won’t attract flies.

Also good are the sticky lines that get reeled in, the Orkin fly zapper traps that the cows walk through, the tiny non-flying wasps which feed on fly eggs, and an herbal mix of essential oils that I’ve seen work nearly as well as pyrethrums. But no matter what, the key word in fly control in your barn environment is to keep things as DRY as possible.  Ventilation will also go along way in keeping flies at bay.

Summary

In summary, flies can be a serious problem for cattle, as they can transmit a variety of diseases that can cause serious health problems and even death. To prevent fly-borne diseases in cattle, it’s important to implement a comprehensive fly control program that includes maintaining proper sanitation, reducing standing water, using fly control products, and using fly predators. Additionally, regular veterinary check-ups, vaccination, keeping the herd healthy and monitoring the herd regularly can also help in preventing fly-borne diseases. It’s important to consult with a veterinarian to determine the best course of action for preventing and treating fly-borne diseases in a cattle herd.

Good luck next summer season!

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