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It’s time to think fly control

The weather is warming and that means the flies will soon be buzzing. And for beef producers and their cattle, that means it’s time to prepare for fly control.

While horn flies continue to cause the main economic loss in cattle, there are at least three other fly species that economically impact beef cattle production. These species include: the face fly, the stable fly and, to a lesser extent, the housefly. The successful control of these flies can mean extra dollars earned for the beef producer.

We all know about the horn fly. This blood-feeding pest is responsible for losses of beef cattle performance in the millions of dollars annually. When horn fly numbers are high, beef cattle experience a high level of annoyance and blood loss. The end result of high horn fly populations is decreased milk production, reduced weight gains, changes in grazing patterns and cattle bunching together.

A typical horn fly will take some 20 to 30 “blood meals” each day consisting of around five ounces of blood loss per feeding. The only time they leave a beef animal is when the female horn fly deposits eggs in fresh cow manure. The complete life cycle, from egg to adult, can usually be completed in 10 to 20 days. Without any type of control, multiple generations of horn flies can impact any beef herd with measurable economic losses.

The face fly is quickly becoming a major economic pest to beef producers. As a matter of fact, the face fly has replaced the horn fly as the most economically devastating pest in California beef production. A non-biting fly, the face fly feeds on animal secretions.

The adult female face fly typically clusters around a beef animal’s eyes, mouth and muzzle, causing a high level of discomfort and annoyance to the beef animal.  Face flies can be vectors of Moraxella bovis, the principal cause/agent of bovine pinkeye or infectious bovine keratoconjunctivitis. Pinkeye is a highly contagious inflammation of the cornea and conjunctiva of beef cattle. If coupled with the infectious bovine rhinotracheitis (IBR) virus, M. bovis can cause a much more severe inflammatory condition.

Stable flies continue to emerge as an economic threat in beef and feedlot cattle. Stable flies are aggressive feeders that inflict a painful bite. Stable flies cause significant stress in cattle, causing them to spend energy in avoidance behaviors such as foot stamping and tail switching. Range cattle may spend extended periods (not eating or gaining weight) in creeks or ponds to avoid stable flies.

And feedlot cattle are also prone to stable flies. In a recent survey, Kansas’s feedlots lose an estimated $22 million annually due to stable flies. Blood loss and disturbance of feeding may result in a 15% loss in body weight of cattle when stable fly populations are high.

Houseflies are primarily a nuisance to cattle and may cause cattle to engage in avoidance behaviors that detract from time spent feeding. Movement of flies from manure to cattle and between cattle makes houseflies’ ideal vectors for certain diseases. Houseflies have been implicated in the transmission of enteric diseases such as salmonellosis and shigellosis. Houseflies may also transport parasitic worm eggs from manure to feed.

Standard fly control options include insecticide dust bags, back rubbers (oilers), animal sprays, pour-on insecticides and insecticide impregnated ear tags. Sometimes a combination of two or more of these fly control measures is needed to achieve a reasonably high level of control of these various fly species. However, a producer will need to apply multiple options several times during the fly season to achieve optimal results of these four fly pests, and especially horn flies.

A new oral larvicide (feed additives) option is now available that can assist in controlling all four flies without the animal stress, handling of pesticides and expensive labor associated with administering these multiple fly control options.

One of the most exciting products of 2016 is the introduction of Champion’s JustiFLYä Feedthrough in a small, easy to use 360-gram add-pack. A producer will simply mix the package of JustiFLY with 50-lbs. of free choice mineral to achieve control of all four fly species. The active ingredient in JustiFLY is diflubenzuron (same active found in ClariFlyÒ), a highly effective insect growth regulator or IGR, that stops the larvae from developing once in contact with treated manure. When started 30 days prior to flies appearing and ending after the first freeze, the new add-pack allows producers highly economical, stress-free, full-season fly control of all four flies (and especially horn flies) while utilizing their own mineral choice.

The benefits of utilizing a feedthrough product like JustiFLY are multifold. Unlike current methoprene-based products that only control horn flies, JustiFLY is EPA labeled to control horn flies as well as face flies, stable flies and houseflies. It is also EPA-approved for use in lactating beef and dairy cows and calves and has no milk disposal issues or withdrawal period. No animal stress associated with rounding up, ear tagging and/or spraying animals, is also an economic benefit.

Based on a mineral consumption rate of 2-3 ounces/head/day, one 360-gram add pack of JustiFLY Feedthrough provides approximately 200 cow days (1,200 lbs. each) of fly control. This product is a highly economical, easy to use pasture fly control option where killing flies is critical to animal comfort, overall performance (including weight gains), herd health and stress-reducing fly control convenience.


Material on BEEF Briefing Room comes directly from company news releases. Source: Champion Animal Health