Cost-effective fly control strategies
- Why fly control fails
- Early applications that are low cost
- Timely management tips
While these financial times have every dairy producer prioritizing where to spend money, fly control is an expense worth considering. Research estimates that Stable flies can lower milk production by 15 to 30 percent. Additionally, contagious mastitis is also spread by high fly populations. Beyond biological issues with your cow herd, a high fly population can affect employee health and happiness along with neighbor relationships.
Successful fly control on your farm doesn’t have to be costly. What a cost-effective approach requires is a clear understanding of how flies propagate, a written down plan, and consistent management and implementation of your plan.
- Why fly control fails – In most cases, fly control fails when the population is already reaching a peak reproductive capacity. Each female can produce 200 to 400 eggs in her lifecycle, and the development cycle is 10 to 21 days. Both major fly species (Stable and Horn) found in barns reproduce in decaying organic matter such as decaying straw or hay, rotting feed around bunks, silage, and spilled calf feed. The practice of strict sanitation and appropriate cleaning schedules not only is potentially the least costly, but is absolutely the most critical aspect of reducing numbers.
- Plan now – Know your strategy before flies emerge this spring. Early in the spring when flies first emerge, use of sticky strips can be very successful. One strategy that has worked well is to apply the thinner sticky tape outside the length of the entire freestall barn by simply tacking a nail into the wall and attaching the tape. Flies will concentrate on the warmest side of the building especially in the morning and often on the strip. Furthermore, mowing around buildings and lagoons takes away a fly’s habitat. Also, minimizing standing water will remove areas where flies can lay eggs. Even further, integrating biological practices like Clarify® and pour-one, or insecticides should be considered based on calf and cow housing.
- How to manage and implement – A timely integrated pest management strategy that is well planned with compatible methods offers the best opportunity to control fly populations and reduce their potential economic impact. Use sanitation and drying of organic matter as a primary means of controlling all flies – This is critical. Maintain grass and vegetation around structures that are being treated, so that flies must land on the treated structures where the insecticide is sprayed. Consult with your Cargill Dairy Focus Consultant to determine if feed through strategy or other integrated pest management (IPM) might benefit your farm.