6 methods of pest control in beef herds

We’re several months away from a winter frost, and that means there’s still lots of time left where controlling flies, insects and other pests is vitally important for maintaining optimal health in the beef herd.

There’s a huge difference between horn flies, face flies, house flies, stable flies, and other insects, and as a result, there are several methods to consider to keep pests at bay. Steve Boyles, Ohio State University Extension specialist, explains six of these methods and offers tips for choosing the best option for controlling specific pests.

1. Backrubbers, oilers, and dust bags

Boyle writes, “Backrubbers and oilers will provide some reduction in face fly numbers but are generally not as good for controlling face flies as they are for horn flies. Models that force the animal to get the toxicant around the head area are generally best for reducing face fly numbers. Backrubbers offer cattle the incentive to satisfy their instinct to scratch and are most effective if placed in pasture areas where livestock loaf. Reductions In face fly and horn fly populations can be achieved by the effective use of dust bags.”

2. Spraying

“Routinely spraying cattle with insecticide sprays can be effective for horn fly control, but requires labor,” Boyle says. “Most insecticides available in spray formulations last only one to two weeks, and cattle need to be handled and brought into a confined area to be sprayed.”

3. Ear tags

Boyle explains that there are numerous trade names and designs currently marketed containing pyrethroid, organophospate, and avermectin insecticides.

“Depending on the product, one or two tags are installed per animal,” he says. “Ear tags containing pyrethroids provide excellent control of horn flies and face flies. However, horn flies have developed some resistance to these pyrethroids. The organophosphate tags available will control pyrethroid-resistant horn flies. Ear tags release insecticide most efficiently during the first two months after application. Remove the tags at the end of the fly season.”

4. Pour-on

The best way to apply a pour-on is from the head down to the tail, says Boyle. “Where pyrethroid-resistant horn flies are present, a non-pyrethroid-resistant pour-on should be used,” he recommends.

5. Oral methods

Boyle writes, “Boluses prevent immature fly larvae from becoming adults. Another means of oral treatment is the use of larvicide feed additives in free-choice mineral.”

6. Biological control

“Dung beetles can be of benefit by aiding in the destruction of manure piles,” says Boyle. “Managing pasture flies and promoting dung beetles is a delicate balancing act. If there has been the extensive use of certain dewormers and systemic insecticides, the residues from them may kill dung beetles. If you find holes in the surface of the manure piles, or piles appear to be shredded, you probably have dung beetles. To confirm their presence, open the piles look for adult beetles.”

To read more about how to tell the difference between face, house, stable and horn flies, read Boyles’ entire article here.

Which flies and insects are the most prevalent in your neck of the woods, and how do you control them? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of beefmagazine.com or Penton Agriculture.

 

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