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It’s pest season; Take steps to protect your livestock

Few things are more annoying than an insect buzzing around your ears. Until it bites you, that is. Now imagine a cloud of the little pests working on your cows and you can begin to understand the havoc that insect pests can inflict on your cattle and your profits.

With normal to high insect pressure anticipated this spring and summer, experts at Bayer HealthCare LLC Animal Health suggest getting in front of those seasonal and year-round pest problems before they become an issue.

"When it comes to pests, the best offense is a good defense," says Larry Hawkins, senior technical services veterinarian at Bayer HealthCare Animal Health. "Our Defense Point System can provide a specific strategy to help protect your livestock operation from pests and the damage they can cause."  

This damage can include decreasing the productivity of your operation, transmitting disease, disrupting feeding and ultimately reducing animal weight gain.

The key to an effective pest management strategy is understanding the type of insect you are dealing with, its feeding habits, breeding areas and preferred resting spaces.

To do this, Dr. Hawkins recommends dividing a producer's entire operation into multiple treatment areas. These include:

  • On-Animal – Animals are ground zero for pest damage. On-animal treatment targets pests that want to take blood meal from your livestock, such as horn flies, mites and ticks. On-animal treatments include ear tags, pour-ons, on-animal sprays and dusts.
  • Facility – Facility and pen premise treatments allow you to target pests in areas where your animals feed and rest. This creates a prime location for pests to pass from one animal to another. Treating your facilities can help reduce the number of pests bothering your livestock. For cattle, these include baits and sprays.
  • Environment – Pests may use the areas beyond the immediate housing facilities to breed. Treating potential pest-breeding areas that surround your livestock buildings, horse stables and feed storage areas may play a significant role in reducing the pest populations. For cattle, these treatments include baits, sprays and dusts
  • Feed-Through – Several species of flies lay their eggs directly in manure. Feed-through insecticides kill fly larva as the eggs hatch, before they can mature and continue the cycle. The use of an oral larvicide can be a proactive effort in disrupting the fly's lifecycle.

"Bayer offers a comprehensive line of pest control products that are backed by science," says Bruce Brinkmeyer, manager, Farm Hygiene Products at Bayer HealthCare Animal Health.

Bayer's line of pest control products covers a wide variety of insects and comes in multiple forms. For specific product recommendations by category, visit

In addition to selecting quality products, rotation can help minimize the development of resistance in insecticides as pests can develop reduced susceptibility to an active ingredient over time. To help prevent this, consider rotating to a product that uses a different mode of action (MOA) every year or so. An effective rotation strategy alternates between products from completely different MOA groups, not just between active ingredients from the same MOA group.