Fly Control is a Battle Worth Fighting

Feb 19, 2021

Tara Jo Bina
Countryside Feed Sales & Nutrition Professional
We all know how a few biting bites can put the damper on a family picnic. Just imagine multiplying the pain of a fly bite by a few hundred, and you’ll begin to get a sense of what your herd has to deal with. With no shelter to dine in, it’s no wonder cattle experience minimal weight gains under heavy fly pressure!
When left unchecked, hundreds or even thousands of flies can make a home on every animal in your herd. The stress caused by their bites prompts cattle to go off feed and spend energy trying to dislodge them, which can lead to a significant reduction in weight gain.
Several types of flies use cattle as a host, but horn flies and stable flies are the two that generally cause the most economic damage. Most topical fly control measures are only effective on horn flies because the pests stay on or around an animal for their entire lifespan. Other flies, however, don't typically stay in contact with the animal long enough for chemical methods to be effective.
Fortunately feed-through larvacides and garlic products can help limit the impact that all types of flies have on our animals. This is important, because even though we’ll never completely eliminate flies, the more comfortable a herd is, the more profitable it will be. A control program is considered to be effective if it keeps horn fly levels to fewer than 200 flies per animal.
Feed Through Larvacides
We carry two high quality feed through larvicides at Countryside Feed: ClariFly® Larvicide and Altosid® IGR. These products limit the number of flies by killing them in the larval and pupal stages. Reduced fly numbers are generally observed about 3 weeks after being introduced to cattle.
To help determine ideal timing, we recommend producers begin feeding ClariFly® or Altosid® IGR approximately 30 days before the average date that daily daytime temperatures typically reach 65° F. This is the point when overwintering flies emerge to mark the start of the fly season. This process should be maintained into the fall season until 30 days after first frost has been recorded.
Typically, Altosid® IGR is mixed in minerals for grazing cattle, whereas ClariFly®  is commonly used on dry lot cattle. Countryside Feed has the ability to include either feed through larvacide in different feed formulas!
Garlic Products
We also carry quality garlic products at Countryside Feed that may assist in decreasing fly pressure. In addition, studies have indicated that garlic helps improve the immune system, offers antibiotic properties and supports an overall increase in production. If you decide to use a garlic product in your operation, we recommend feeding it for the same time periods as feed through larvacides, 30 days before flies emerge through 30 days after the first frost.
Eliminate Environmental Factors
Another way to help suppress fly populations is to clean up areas where cattle congregate. Cleaning dry lot pens and getting rid of unnecessary areas of standing water are good practices. Stable flies like to live in a mixture of hay and manure, so removing their habitat can be particularly helpful – especially in the winter months. This can be more difficult in pasture settings, but anything you can do to limit the environmental factors that attract flies can make a big difference.
Other Products for Horn Flies
If horn flies are your biggest nemesis, you might find that adding another control measure to your feed-through program is needed to achieve a higher level of control. Depending on your preferences and workload, products like ear tags, animal sprays, dust bags, back rubbers, oilers and pour-on insecticides can be effective on horn flies. Click here to learn more about those options.
If you have questions about selecting the right fly control measures for your farm, please call your local Countryside Feed nutritionist. Some products might be a better than others depending on your operation, so we’re always here to help you make educated selections for your herd.

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