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Anticipating Fly Season Dr. Tony Martin Staff Veterinarian
Spring is around the corner. Along with the pleasantries of warmer temperatures, green grass, flowers, and the start of a new planting season it also brings the start of another fly season. Now is a good time to be laying out your plans for minimizing the population of flies and their adverse effects on you and your livestock.
Think about a broad, multifaceted approach to fly control.
The first consideration should be for environmental things you can manage to minimize the safe harbor and breeding grounds of insect pests.
Open manure piles or disposal areas should be addressed. If manure and/or organic waste is aggregated in your operation, it should be properly composted or quickly spread and incorporated into crop ground.
Establishing proper drainage for water is a must to minimize the existence of shallow pools and mud holes that can attract and foster breeding insects. Additionally, cleaning up any feed spills that provide easy nutrient access to insects (and rodents) is a big help.
Preventing the existence of tall weeds and grass around buildings and fences removes a safe harbor for certain fly pests to rest between their otherwise irritating activities. Regular mowing/weed eating, use of appropriate herbicide sprays, or establishing a clean, two to three foot rock perimeter around buildings is a great help against insects (and rodents).
Beyond these management efforts there are many chemical control tools to consider: The use of feed-through insect control products has become invaluable in many situations, especially those where animals are concentrated together. They are available in mineral and lick tub applications as well as for incorporation into feeds and supplements.
Use of baits and residual spray products around facilities will address those flies that keep looking to hide and rest but no longer have the weeds and tall grass that you’ve already removed!!
Chemical control on livestock themselves can be exerted through sprays, pour ons, dusts, fly tags, and back rubbers, all of which can be used in addition to the feed through products mentioned earlier.
I encourage each of you to work with your local MFA to line out what fly control tools that you can put to work for you this year. In particular I want to emphasize starting your program early and staying with it through the entire fly season. [BUT, one caveat to that “start early” statement is a caution NOT to put fly tags in too early. Remember, most fly tags have a claim for 3-5 month control. Waiting until May or June to put them in will carry their protection into the early fall when flies are not only still around, but may be even more prevalent than they are early in the spring.]
Again, take some time now to lay out a fly control plan and work with your MFA dealer location to line out what products you’ll need.