Stable defense

May 08, 2024

Fly control is a constant struggle for horse and farm owners. Flying insects, including flies, are not just annoyances; they can serve as vectors to spread infectious diseases among animals. Effectively controlling flies requires a combination of products and techniques to manage the fly population from multiple angles.

Fly Sprays and Other Topical Products

Most horse owners use fly spray as their first line of defense against flying pests. Depending on the type of spray and the horse’s environment, the effective period may range from 30 minutes to several days. Overuse of sprays is expensive and potentially harmful to the environment. To avoid waste, avoid spraying horses shortly before rainstorms or baths. “Spot-on” drop products, usually composed of the same chemicals as those found in fly sprays, are another option. These products are most often used on pasture-kept horses and may be effective for up to two weeks after application. When using a spot-on product for the first time, monitor your horse closely for signs of skin reactions. These products are generally not recommended for use on foals under 12 weeks of age.

Masks, Boots, and Sheets

Physical barriers provide better long-term fly deterrence than sprays. Properly fitted masks, boots, and sheets of various designs are available on the market to help protect your horse from flies and other biting insects. Fly sheets also reduce sun bleaching on horses who live outside during the summer months. Most modern fly sheets are well-ventilated, but they can cause the horse to feel warmer and should be removed during periods of excessive heat; they are also not recommended for use on lactating broodmares due to the risk of injury to the foal while attempting to nurse. All fly barrier horse clothing should be checked regularly to make sure it fits well, isn’t causing rubs, and is in good condition. These products are not recommended for horses that live in heavily wooded areas and/or aren’t closely observed by their owners or managers.

Feed-Through Fly Control

House and stable fly populations can be effectively reduced with feed-through products called insect growth regulators (IGRs). IGRs work by passing through the horse into the manure, where these fly species lay their eggs, and preventing the fly larvae from maturing into adults. There are two IGR drugs approved for use in horses — Diflubenzuron and Cyromazin. For maximum effectiveness, these drugs should be started in late winter/early spring and should be fed to every horse on the property. There are also supplements available on the market that claim to repel flies in horses that have consumed them. These products usually contain garlic or other herbal ingredients, but there is no significant scientific evidence available to support their claims of efficacy.

Environmental Control

The most effective and affordable way to reduce the fly population on your property is by eliminating breeding grounds in and around areas where horses are housed. Clean stalls, paddocks, and other high-traffic areas frequently. Remove manure, soiled bedding, and discarded hay; this will not only remove a hospitable fly breeding ground but also reduce mud. Dragging pastures to break up manure piles is best done during very hot, dry summer months for both internal and external parasite egg control. Eliminate sources of stagnant and standing water to reduce breeding grounds for mosquitos, another flying pest that spreads infectious diseases, including West Nile Virus.

Remember that your local Co-op is an excellent source for all your fly control and horse care essentials.

Read More News

Apr 02, 2024
The first step in deciding what feed or feed type is best for your cattle is to verify which nutrients are limiting or preventing the utilization of forage energy. Grazing cattle make their choice of diet by selectively grazing the pasture they are housed on, which can be of unknown nutrient composition. It is well established that cattle have nutrient requirements that vary with weight, production level, environmental condition, and genetics. It is relatively easy to determine these nutrient requirements for a specific beef animal — as well as the makeup of the forages used to model feedstuffs that provide important components not found in the basal forage diet.
Mar 04, 2024
We all deal with some sort of change almost every day of our lives — from changes in our surroundings such as the weather, to bigger changes that involve losing a loved one or a good friend that moves away. This may sound cliché, but change is most certainly inevitable. This is especially true in the field of agriculture. 
Feb 05, 2024
A cold, January rain begins pattering the hood of his pickup as Lobelville cattleman Tim Byrd pulls up to the metal gate of his pasture. Across the fence, members of his commercial cow/calf herd look on expectantly, gathering near the fence.