Plan Fly Control Early

Feb 22, 2021

I know it’s hard to fathom worrying about fly season when the past two weeks we have been dealing with sub-zero temperatures. However, now is the time to plan on what type of management decisions need to be done to insure adequate fly control in the months ahead.  

Flies are a constant irritant and performance drain on cattle whether on pasture or drylot. They rob nutrients from the animal by the constant blood they can suck, produce high levels of stress with constant irritation and transmit a variety of diseases contributing to additional production, health, and economic losses. Recent estimates of losses for beef cattle are up to $50 per head annually. We will never completely eliminate flies but should shoot for a threshold level of less than 200 flies per animal. 

One of the simplest and cost-effective methods of controlling fly populations is the feeding of a pass-through insecticide designed to prevent larvae from reaching maturity. The three most popular products are IGR (prevents horn flies only) and Rabon, or Clarifly (prevents house, horn, face, and stable flies). All products can be added to a multitude number of feeds, mineral, or feed tub options. It is important that the animal is consuming whatever they are eating every day to ensure the level of insecticide is present in the manure to stop the fly cycle. Also, it is important to start feeding the product 30 days before fly season begins and till 30 days after the fly season ends.  Another feed product that is becoming more and more popular is the adding of garlic to your feed product. Garlic is not a larvicide but repels the flies by omitting sulfur smell through the skin and breath of the animal. Garlic has also shown to prevent mosquitoes, ticks, and lice from attaching the cow. 

Contact your SFG feed specialist today to see which option works best for you and your operation.