Tips to Keep Flies Away from Livestock 

Wisconsinites wait all year for the weather to turn warm. However, summertime in Wisconsin can also bring excessive heat, humidity, and moisture. This can make it difficult to keep cattle comfortable, explains Dr. Scott Pertzborn, an owner at Lodi Veterinary Care

If we think flies are annoying flying around our head, the implications are even worse for cows. Flies thrive with adequate rainfall and, in large numbers, can wreak havoc on cattle productivity in the barn and pasture. While rain is welcomed for crop growth, too much of it is bad for cows and your bottom line. 

What happens when flies bug livestock 

Any nuisance, even a small fly, can have a negative impact on milk and meat production. 

Cows that are working hard to produce 100 pounds of milk a day are going to see dips in production if they are constantly swatting at flies with their ears and tails instead of eating. Too many flies can cause a cow to stand more, putting more stress on their feet. 

What’s more, stress reduces an animal’s immune response. This puts cows at greater risk for pink eye if countless flies are buzzing around their eyes. 

Where flies live on the farm 

If you have a problem with flies on your farm, find out where they’re breeding. Most often, it’s wherever these ideal conditions occur: 

  1. Moisture – Around water troughs, drainage, holding ponds, mud, puddles, etc. 
  2. Decaying organic matter – Where there is damp or spoiled feed, anywhere manure accumulates, and bedding in calf hutches or bedded packs for heifers 

As you know, manure isn’t shoveled away in the pasture like it is in the barn. This makes pastures a breeding ground for flies. Flies and other insects also like brush and long grass along fence lines or buildings. 

How to keep flies away from animals 

  • Review barn cleaning schedules and adjust to more frequent cleanings if flies are a problem. 
  • Keep cattle housing dry and free of spilled feed, damp straw, etc.
  • Maintain the vegetation around the farm – mow down grasses and clean up brush to restrict a fly’s breeding ground.
  • Use ear tags with insecticide.
  • Utilize pour-on products and make sure you treat the legs, too. Those stable flies bite hard! 
  • Follow the directions on the insecticides you use to make sure your timing is right and you’re targeting the right species. 
  • Consider using an insect growth regulator. This may already be an ingredient in milk replacers or mineral and salt blocks.

Rural Mutual has been protecting farms across Wisconsin for 90 years. Reach out to your local Rural Mutual insurance agent to get started.