Ebook excerpt from SlowMoneyFarm.
There are many ways to kill and repel flies. Flies need – like all things – favorable conditions to live, food and water. And not much of the latter! They cause problems with hygiene and can harm production of animals. They’ll bite sores on dogs ears and infest live animals with maggots, given the right conditions. Flies get no mercy – and often a several prong approach is used in fighting them.
Livestock producers often offer “fly blocks” – in blocks like the familiar 50 pound salt block these blocks are fed to animals and discourage flies. Horse owners have daily supplements available to feed the animal as well with their regular food.
Some swear by a bag of water with a penny in it suspended in a doorway – and another method herd was suspending a bundle of stinging nettles from doorways. For those preferring not to bump into nettles there’s many other options. Some recommend adding apple cider vinegar to livestock tanks. Vanilla added to rabbit water bottles can help cut flies down.
There’s various assortments of sticky traps – fly ribbons as well as tubes and an assortment of other shapes to hang around the buildings and flies stick to the surface when they land there. There are electric fly zappers which can bother especially horses when a fly hits it and they hear the snap like an electric fencer.
There’s fly predators – which allow the flies to live but feed on the larvae. Reportedly this is the option at a place that could have a large swarm of flies – the Kentucky Horse Park. This is a place that must be fly free for comfort of horses and the guests visiting.
Another option for smaller barns is a gadget which hangs on the wall and periodically gives a spray of fly spray. A larger adaptation is automatic fly sprayers – where a large barrel has tubes running to each stall throughout the barn and with use of a timer sprays the barn several times a day. A mist is sprayed on each stall at a set time. This is convenient and when it works effortlessness. Some don’t like the idea of fly spray falling onto the ground and the feed that might be in the stall. A wide range of fly sprays are available also for use on individual animals.
Fly rubs – a large round cloth hung between two poles – can be soaked in fly chemicals where cattle go under it and treat themselves when it wipes some fly spray on them. Mixing up and applying fly spray to a group of animals is another means of fly control.
Still another means of flies involve the use of traps – generally a plastic gadget with foul smelling attractant in it and water – the fly gets in and can’t get out. Some are disposable “trap n toss” while others can be rinsed out, replacement attractant purchased and a fresh batch put out when the trap is full. These are effective but smell bad – effective for turnout paddocks (out of reach of horses) or loafing sheds.
Fly baits are another choice. Generally a bright blue or yellow these are spread around or set in some kind of container where flies can get into it. One that is cheap – take a 2 liter soda bottle. Cut several small holes in it for flies to get in/out of. Put your bait in it and hang up out of reach of pets, children and other animals. Small holes allow flies in/out but don’t allow birds access to it. Like any poisons great care should be taken handling this bait – it is foul smelling but in combination with other factors works!
There’s other means of fly control that take nothing but time. Wash horse and livestock water tanks on a weekly basis in warm weather. Not just filling – get a little $1 scrubber at a dollar store and scrub it out, dump it and rinse. Buckets in stalls should also be washed out. Rinse thoroughly and refill.
Pick up manure in paddocks and keep manure picked up around other species. The less manure standing around the less likely flies are to be around. Some recommend the use of lime under rabbit cages and other places that sometimes aren’t easily cleaned. Trays under rabbit cages should be emptied, rinsed and refilled often. Clean up old wet feed and hay – haul to the compost pile or mix in the manure pile. Move the manure pile further from the barn – something that helps not only with flies but as a fire issue also.
For animals that sweat give them an occasional hose down – removing dirt and sweat removes a reason for flies to pester your animals.
Fly control can be expensive but in using preventative measures where possible it makes the maximum use of what you do have to buy. A combination works best for most – perhaps good management combined with sticky traps, traps and bait. For outdoor or sheltered situations this is the most effective option. Fly blocks are effective for those with larger animals.
Fly control need not be expensive – but needs to be done on small homesteads as well as larger farms.