Yes. The time of year where you go out to take care of your calves and you’re inundated by flies. Or maybe it’s around your lagoon or your feed storage that you are “attacked.”

The real question is how do we get ahead of it before it gets bad? Remember, fly control is just like any other problem on the dairy – you need to look at it from lots of different directions. For instance, if you had a mastitis problem, would you just change your teat dip? No, you would consider the cleanliness of your stalls, your cleaning technique in the parlor, and also look at what bug is causing the problem. Why wouldn’t you look at fly control the same way?

So what do we do? Well, we know that sprays are just a part of control. However, really what we should be targeting are the larvae of the fly. An adult fly can lay up to 9,000 eggs in her lifetime. If you kill the fly as an adult, maybe she already laid 5,000 eggs. Wouldn’t you rather kill them before they have the potential to worsen your fly burden? These are the control methods that really pack the punch into fly control strategies.

Larvicides 101:

  • Larvicides are designed to kill the larvae (or maggots) of flies before they become adults.
  • One of the most cost-effective larvicides out there is called ClariFly. It is a feed additive that passes through the animal (calf or cow) without harming the animal. It leaves the animal completely undigested. Once fly larvae feed upon the manure of that animal, it prevents the larvae from maturing and they eventually die. This can be added to milk, starter grains, or feed to reduce larvae populations on farm.
  • Larvicide sprays can also be used to reduce larvae burdens where flies breed. Sites where this should be used would be straw bedding, in front of bunks where old feed congregates, or around rotting feed stores.
  • Finally, it is always really important to remember, the less rotting feed and manure you have lying around, the better. This is because flies utilize these materials as the nursery and food for their larvae. Manure is literally a “Free food here” sign for flies. No wonder flies flock to these areas! Removing manure is almost free, does not contribute to fly resistance, and is the foundation for good fly control on the dairy or calf ranch.

If you have more questions or would like to learn more about how you can develop a fly control program tailored to your farm, contact your friends at Prairie Livestock Supply and the Veterinary Medical Center at 1-800-626-7788 or 507-372-2957. Here’s to a summer with less flies!

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