Fly Control

I thought about a more fun topic for our first ‘real’ blog post, but we’re in the midst of fly season in Iowa and it’s top of mind. To be honest, we struggled with flies last year. That is why we decided 2021 we were going to WIN the war on flies! There are lots of opinions and discussions around fly control, many of them vary depending on your location, how tame your cattle are, and what your operation looks like. Here is what we’re trying this year:

  • Cattle Curtain – Probably the best invention ever! We purchased this in 2020, but didn’t have a great way to hang it to ensure the cattle walked through it on a regular basis. This year, we used an old arch gate that was part of a coral we weren’t using to mount the curtain. It is working like a charm! We can move it from pasture to pasture and make sure each animal passes through at least twice a day coming for water, etc. We fill ours with a mix of permethrin and hydraulic oil. It leaves the cattle a little greasy, but protected from annoying flies and reduces their risk of pink eye.
  • Pour On – at the beginning of the season (May for us) we treated all of our cattle with a dewormer along with their annual vaccines. That included protection from flies. As the Summer goes on, we retreat as needed with a cyfluthrin pour on that focuses on horn and face flies and is safe for lactating and pregnant cattle.
  • Minerals with Altosid – Our cattle have access to trace minerals year round. About a month before we start seeing flies, we switch to a mineral with Altosid. This prevents horn flies from breeding in the cattle’s manure, thus controlling the population.
  • Big Bag Fly Traps – Just add water and hang these bags anywhere where your flies congregate. These are probably one of my favorite parts of our fly control program, mainly because you can SEE the results and it is so satisfying! They do stink, so don’t put them in areas you love to hang out, or where there isn’t good airflow, but these have been a great piece of the fly control puzzle for us.
  • Last, and our (and our cattle’s) least favorite option is fly spray. While it works, the results are short lived, and most of our cattle have to be contained for us to apply it. A few (normally very mellow calves) even bolt in the opposite direction if they see us coming with it in our hands!

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