Beef Cattle Fly Control

Beef cattle fly control is very important to prevent the spread of various diseases among animals. Pests like flies cause irritation to the animals and carry many disease causing bacteria and viruses. Face flies, horn flies and stable flies are most annoying and dangerous pests.

Face flies not only cause irritation in the eyes but carry the bacterium Moraxella bovis, which causes infectious bovine keratoconjunctivitis or pinkeye in beef cattle. These diseases add to the costs of the beef cattle farm. Ranch owners have to spend lots of money to cure this disease. Horn flies, stable flies, horse flies and other flies feed and suck blood from animals, causing much trouble. They can lead to weight loss in beef cattle.

Regularly subjected to same pesticides and insecticides, flies develop immunity towards them. It is better to change your insecticides every season. You can also use sprays, back rubbers, oilers, ear tags, pour-ons, face rubbers and dust bags to control flies, when they are still small in number. Flies like face flies and horn flies prefer cattle manure to lay their eggs and it is most suitable for the growth of larvae. You can also feed the animals any products that can kill larvae in the manure. Insect growth regulator (IGR) like diflubenzuron can be given in bolus. It is safe to use with beef cattle and very effective. You can also use methoprene as a “feed through” product.

You can always consult your veterinarian regarding the use of drugs and insecticides for beef cattle fly control; so that they are safe on animals and effective on flies. Following instructions that come with the insecticides is also very important. Any kind of carelessness can add to the trouble and may have negative impact on your animals. Products must be handled and stored very carefully as they are toxic and may harm humans, children and other pets around. Check the expiry date of the products before use. Keep a record of everything you do to control flies, the date of spray and effectiveness of various compounds that you have tried.

Beef cattle fly control in every season is very important to prevent any losses and harm to the animals. Flies come in every season and make sure that you and your ranch is prepared to deal with them. Other methods of fly control like fly traps, sex attractants, sterile male flies and predator wasps can also be used.

Face Fly Control
Adequate face fly control is very difficult to obtain under Great Plains cattle management systems. The face fly spends most of its time on the face of cattle which means that the animal’s face must be treated with insecticide. It also spends a great deal of time away from the animal which means its chance of contact with an insecticide is less than with horn flies which are on cattle continuously. Unlike horn flies, face flies are at least equally attracted to calves as to cows which means the calves also have to be treated to insure adequate control. Because of these factors it is necessary to get insecticide on the faces of cows and calves by some method 2 or 3 times weekly. The methods available would include:

     Self-treatment devices: Dust bags and oilers. Normally these are used as a free choice use system for horn fly control. This is not generally adequate for face fly control. Forced use of these systems is almost mandatory to obtain face fly control. Water, feed or salt should be fenced and dust bags or oilers hung in gates to force cattle to use them on a daily basis. The bags or oilers have to be lowered to the point that cows contact them with their faces while entering and so that calves also use them. It may be necessary to lower them gradually after the cattle get used to them. It is generally easier to get cattle accustomed to oilers or dust bags if they can see under them at the start.

     Ciodrin (crotoxyphos), Co-Ral (coumaphos), malathion, methyoxychlor and Prolate (Imidan) are registered as dusts for dust bag use. Ciodrin, Co-Ral, Delnav (dioxathion) ronnel (Korlan), lindane, malathion, methoxychlor, ruelene and toxaphene are registered for use in oilers. Oilers and dust bags should not face the prevailing winds or the oiler will dry out too fast and the dust bag will whip, thus wasting dust. Dust bags should be checked after rains for caking of dust. The cakes need to be broken up for adequate dusting. Read, understand and follow label directions for use, mixtures, use restrictions and treatment-slaughter intervals for all insecticides.

     Power sprayers or dusters: Pick-up mounted sprayers and dusters that are operated by hand crank, battery or small motors are now available for livestock insect control. It is necessary to drive among cattle and treat at 2 or 3 day intervals for face fly control. Treatment should be done when wind velocity is low and equipment is close to the animals to avoid waste of insecticides. Wet sprays can still be applied but the necessity of corralling cattle and repeating the application rather often probably renders this method economically unfeasible.

     Feed additives: Insecticides are incorporated into salt, mineral or supplements and fed to livestock. The insecticide passes through the digestive system of the animal and is available in the manure to destroy fly larvae. The success of this system depends on animal intake. Animals grazing on salty vegetation, calves in the cow-calf herd and variability of intake among mature animals means that some manure is left untreated and thus good fly control isn’t achieved. This method does seem to work very well on steer or heifer herds grazing on non-salty vegetation.

     Aircraft: Aircraft ULV insecticide applications for control of face flies has been discouraging. Not enough of the flies are on the cattle at any one time and the usual habitat of the flies provides too much canopy for adequate control by this method.