Warm sunshine, green grass and long days aren’t the only things that come with summer -- so do pesky things like thistles, prairie dogs and parasites. One of the biggest nuisances for a rancher is fly problems. Flies can be stressful on cows, calves and herd bulls – and expensive, too. There are several ways to manage fly problems before they get out of control. Here are four options to consider:
1. Fly tags
This option is good if you work cow-calf pairs before turning out to summer grasses. We typically fly-tag our calves to help combat flies. If tagging cows as well, it is recommended to leave the tags in, not just during the summer months but throughout the year. Correction: As J. Allen Miller and Purdue University's Mark Hilton point out in the comments section below, when using fly tags it's best to remove them from the cattle in the fall as the tags emit less insecticide as the season progresses and there is the possibility of enhancing resistance to the pyrethroid insecticide if just a small amount is present.
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2. Pour-on or sprays
There are probably many ways to apply a spray or pour-on, but we usually take a tank full of fly spray with us and pump it onto the cows and herd bulls when we ride the four-wheeler through the herd in the evenings. This works well on tame cattle; otherwise it might be difficult to get close enough to pump the spray on the animals.
3. Dusters and oilers
We use both of these options in our pastures -- a dust bag for the cows to rub on and oiled rags tied to the bars of the creep feeder that the calves rub on as they go in to eat. This is a pretty cheap and easy way to apply some pest control to the cow-calf pairs. It’s important to locate these options close to a gathering area, like a stock dam, for example, and it’s important to keep them recharged.
4. Feed product added to mineral
According to an article written by Burt Rutherford entitled, “Tips For Controlling Flies On Cattle,” another option is feed-through products added to the mineral. These products target horn-fly reproduction by inhibiting the growth of the larvae as it develops in the fresh manure. While these products can be effective in killing the larvae, they don't kill the adult flies.
Of course, utilizing more than one option is the most effective route to managing flies. You can read more about how to incorporate multiple methods here.
Which methods do you utilize to manage flies? Which methods haven’t worked so well for you? What is the best way, in your opinion, to keep flies at bay? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of Beefmagazine.com or the Penton Farm Progress Group.
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