When the weather begins to warm, it is a great time for animals in your barn to graze and be productive on the pasture but it can also be a difficult time because the higher temperatures brings out irritating flies which can be annoying to deal with. Keep reading to check out some easy to follow steps to help with your fly control for horses and barns.
Flies like horse flies, mosquitoes, stable flies and other filth loving flies can be extremely irritating to cattle, horses and other farm animals, especially when they appear in large numbers. Aside from buzzing round and getting too close to faces and bodies, some of these flies will also bite and suck blood and make life difficult and uncomfortable for both horses and humans.
What makes matters even worse is that both stable flies and house flies are notorious carriers of harmful animal and human diseases. Once these flies lay eggs,it doesn’t take long for a new generation to emerge. The average female fly can lay up to 500 eggs in several batches of 75 to 150 eggs over a three to four day period so a small fly problem can become uncontrollably huge in very little time.
The Prime Barn Suspect: Stable/Horse Flies
If you want to be successful in your mission to rid your barnyard of flies, you have to know your enemy and study their tendencies. While there are a variety of flies which can hang around your barn during spring and summer, your barn animals will most likely be encountering house flies, horse flies or stable flies.
These species of flies flourish around stables where there are horses and livestock because these areas give them ample amounts of food and breeding places to eat and reproduce. This is largely due to all the manure and compost present and how flies are attracted to this filth.
The average life cycle of a fly is made up of four primary stages:
1) the egg,
2) the larva
3) the pupa
The entire process of a fly going from egg to adulthood take between 2 to 4 weeks long with adult flies living from between fourteen days to as long a month.
Adult flies deposit their eggs on horse manure or on any fresh organic material. Depending on the fly species, the eggs will hatch within a few days and the larvae will begin to feed on the manure or waste where they have hatched.
These fly species can make life on the barn miserable for horses and other livestock especially during the warmer parts of the year when they are most active and flock to barnyards and pastures to feed on horses.
Not only are these flies frustrating to deal with, but they can also be dangerous because of their tendency to spread diseases.
Horse flies are also big biters of horses, known for sinking their sharp, blade-like mouthparts into a horse’s flesh and drinking its blood. Severe invasions of horse flies where multitudes are biting into a horse can potentially cause complications to a horse’s digestive system and can even result in the stunting of a horse’s development. It’s safe to say that outbreaks of these flies on a barn should not be taken lightly.
A successful fly control program hinges on regular sanitation practices which take away the moisture, feeding and breeding sides that attracts these flies in the first place. While you can certainly spray around insecticides and put up fly traps to help to reduce numbers, you won’t make much of a difference until there is regular cleaning being done to take those feeding and breeding sources the flies hold so dear.
The following practices are what we recommend if you want to significantly reduce the fly population around your barn and give your horses and livestock the comfort they seek.
Manure Management on Your Barn
As we mentioned before, flies don’t just come out of nowhere to irritate barn animals, they are attracted to something that is of benefit of them, and it is something they can smell from miles away: manure.
Horses and other barn animals leave behind literal tons of manure and flies come flying over in droves to use the manure for breeding and feeding purposes.
Removing manure from barn stalls quickly and not allowing them to linger is an important step in reducing the fly invasion. Stalls should be cleaned and dried as well as bedding should be replaced daily to reduce odors which attract flies and taking away the moisture which they prefer to have for egg laying.
The more manure that is removed and properly disposed of off of your barn, the less appealing it will be for flies to hang around. We do understand that this can be easier said than done.
Often, there isn’t a place away from your barn that you can dump the manure. This is when you should consider using the manure as fertilizer on fields and spreading them thinly with the help of a manure spreader. What you absolutely do not want is for manure to pile up anywhere on your barn or pasture.
Setting up Fly Traps
Fly control traps are an effective way to control large numbers of flies around the barn. Most fly traps work either by luring flies visually via some sort of stimuli like a light (best for biting flies like mosquitoes etc.) while other fly traps work via luring flies with an attractive scent or pheromone.
Traps should be strategically placed away from your stables and the barn itself since the whole point of a trap is to get them away from your barn animals. Often it is best to experiment where to hang the trap to see which placement area is most effective. Once you find an area that gets produces a lot of trapped flies, hang multiple traps there to catch a significant segment of the active fly population.
For flies that find their way into your barn where your horses and barn animals are, having sticky fly tape hung up will be a smart way to capture adult flies and put a stop to the number of flies that are actively breeding and laying eggs.
Feed Through Fly Insecticides
To supplement your fly control program, use feed through insecticides. These products are insect growth regulators (in other words, insect birth control which prevents eggs or larvae from developing into adults). Small amount of these insecticides are put in the animal feed and pass out in the feces which in turn, makes the manure toxic for creating maggots.
This product may help to reduce the population but should not be relied on as a cure all for fly issues in the barn.
Release Fly Predators and Parasites
If pesky flies want to target horses, you in turn can release some fly predators and parasites to target them. For instance, there are predator wasps which can be brought to the barn which will begin to target flies and regulate the population and discourage flies from being comfortable on your barn land. These wasps can be purchased in a variety that won’t sting of be any threat to horses.
There are also fly parasites which can be sprinkled around common areas that flies like to gather and lay there eggs. These parasites have burrowing capabilities and will seek out fly eggs and developing flies and deposit their eggs into a flies eggs or protective cocoon, hindering its ability to develop.
Some other natural enemies of flies are spiders, birds and bats. Encouraging these creatures around your barn can become a natural form of fly management as they will do the pest control for you and go after flies that have invaded a barn and are irritating your barn animals.
Invest in a Premise Spray or Misting System
For severe fly issues, it may be best to invest in a premise spray or fly spraying/misting system. These spray systems deliver a quick knockdown of invading flies. There are insecticides out there which are lethal to flies but contain natural ingredient which make it safe to spray around your horses and other barnyard animals without them being harmed.
The level of sophistication when it comes to misting systems depends on the budget you have and how much you’re willing to spend as some systems work automatically via remote control while for a lower cost you may have to just manually spray and spot treat areas of your barn where there is high fly activity to kill off flies and reduce the numbers.
There is also a cost when it comes to maintaining these spraying systems as you will need to keep up with refilling the spraying concentrate when it runs out and replace any tubes or spraying nozzles over time via general wear and tear.
Spray Fly Repellents
There are many great general fly repellents available which can kill flies or keep them off of your barn animals or ones you can spray around that will make flies avoid your barn entirely. Depending on your situation, there can be a fly repellent or spray that is best for you.
For instance, you can apply a fly spray directly on your horse during times that you are working with them or when they are being ridden that can keep flies off of them and reduce fly bites. It is important to make sure not to get the spray into the eyes of the horse and follow the safety instructions carefully.
For horses, there is also an option to wear a fly mask to keep flies out of sensitive areas like their ears, nostrils and eyes. Fly masks come in many different fittings, sizes and materials so you can find a mask for your horse that provides them the most comfort.
Experiment with these different fits and styles to see which type will work the best for your horse or horses.
Ceiling and portable fans are another low cost but effective way to keep flies from invading your barn. The air which circulates from a fan can be comfortable for horses but make it difficult for flies to be actively and move about the barn or land onto your horses or barn animals not to mention that it can be very relieving to a horse on a particularly hot day.
Routine Barnyard Maintenance
While a combination of strategies above can deal a heavy blow to fly infestations on a barn, the most important strategy to control flies is by putting in place a daily cleaning and maintenance routine around your barn to protect your horses and other animals.
Keep your waste areas clean by sealing garbage cans with tight fitting lids that are lined with plastic bags. This will lessen bad odors which will attract fewer flies which will want to breed in the filth. If at all possible, keep garbage areas as far a distance away from the barn as you can.
The area where you feed your horses can also be a prime breeding ground. Make sure you broom out the feed room daily to keep spilled food from getting a chance to decompose and be another attractant for flies. All horse feed should be tightly sealed in containers when horses are not feeding on them.
While there is no guaranteed strategy for completely ridding your barn of flies, the strategies mentioned above can create a significant dent to the population and give your horses and other barn animals some much-needed relief as well as keep them healthier.
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