Warmer weather brings a rapid increase in fly populations. When flies are abundant, cattle become irritated and stressed. Extra energy is expended in an effort to fight off flies, and less time is spent in normal grazing or resting patterns. While we may never get a true measure of the economic loss created by flies, it seems logical that calves running from flies are not gaining weight.
When comparing fly control methods, consider what is the most practical to implement in your operation. If your herd interaction is infrequent due to time, distance or pasture size, your approach may differ from a neighbor whose cattle are nearby and easily accessible. Each season is unique, but it often requires a combination of fly control efforts to provide the greatest benefit.
Pour-on insecticides, including Cylence and Ultra Saber, control horn flies and lice. Pour-on wormers provide nearly a month of protection from horn flies, in addition to internal and broader external parasite control. Fly tags are economical and can help control face and horn flies for up to 5 months. Both efforts can be combined with spring vaccinations when preparing cattle for pasture.
Mineral feeders, dust bags or cattle rubs charged with insecticide allow cattle to self-treat frequently while in the pasture. The Bullmaster II Mineral Feeder with Fly Killer Kover has a built-in insecticide reservoir that continuously saturates the feeder’s felt cover, applying insecticide each time mineral is consumed.
Topical sprays or pour-on insecticides can be quite effective if more frequent application is feasible. As the daylight hours grow each day, it seems that time grows more scarce. Any fly control efforts made early should be time well spent. Lori H