June 15, 2009

Coping with Flies


According to my calendar summer officially begins on June 21st and I could not be happier. On our farm there isn't a snowflake, frozen water bucket or ice packed horse hoof in sight. Warm weather and sunshine is where it is at for me. The bulky coats and itchy winter hats are put away, lonely in the back of some dark closet. The heavy mud boots sit abandoned by the door and I am comfortable in my t-shirts and tennis shoes once again. Beautiful, fun, warm summertime is here once more!

For all of its wonderfulness, summertime on the farm does come with its own unique problems; although I will still take them over cold weather, ice and snow any day. One of those problems is insects; flies being the most predominate and annoying of those. Flies are more than just an annoyance though. They are attracted to wounds, complicating them with infections. They also carry contagious disease from one animal to another. For example, if a fly is attracted to the discharge of a goat that is sick with let's say pinkeye, it easily transmits the infection to the next animal it lands on and since even house flies can travel a quarter of a mile they can cover the distance between quarantine pen to the rest of the herd quite easily.

There are some simple steps we can take to greatly reduce the number of flies around our barns though. The best place to start is to remove, compost (piles of compost can be covered with black plastic to increase decomposition) or burn any potential breeding material, such as soiled animal bedding. It should be noted if you are going to burn old bedding material please be very cautious and take all safety precautions as fires can easily get out of hand.

We should also be aware of rotting round hay bales, garbage, road kill, fruit that has fallen from trees and is rotting on the ground or pet food that has gotten wet outside; as these are other sources of breeding material for flies.

Flies use weeds and tall grasses as a place to rest and escape hot or cold temperatures. Remove weeds from around buildings to discourage their presence; although most goat keepers will find the weeds around the barn has already been taken care of for us.

Fly spray can be applied to goats and other livestock to increase their comfort and well-being; and don't forget the guardian dogs! There are many kinds of fly traps available, some more effective than others. Houseflies take at least 8 days to complete their life cycle and emerge as adult flies. So while daily pick up of manure and dirty bedding is preferred, if we can pick up manure and other fly breeding sites at no more than a seven day interval we can break the cycle. This will greatly reduce the number of flies around our barn causing our animals and us discomfort because after all what farmer doesn't dream of a fly free summer?

Photo credit - http://www.maricopa.gov/envsvc

18 comments:

Alix said...

Amen, sistah. When we had our horse, Remmy, the flies were always a concern. You can put a fly mask on a horse, but I don't think I've ever seen goats in fly masks. I'd say that would look silly, but they look just as silly on horses. Why don't all the flies just go to France or something?

KathyB. said...

Have you tried the little parasitic wasps that go after fly larvae , the ones from Spaulding Labs? I order and use them and they work!Flies are such nasty, disease ridden little critters.....and they are annoying besides. Every once in a while I witness a sheep overcome with the distress of flies and it is not a pretty sight. Using parasitic wasps to consume fly larvae has made a difference.

And yes, a fly free summer would rank right up there with and ant free summer, guess that will only be in Heaven..or maybe in Heaven it won't matter!

Future Mama said...

Oh man, I'd take summer over winter any day too! I can't imagine how much harder winters must be to deal with with a bunch of farm animals though!

Reading this post and reading about all of the works that goes into just a few things makes me SO grateful for farmers... So thank you!! :)

I can't even keep a flower in a flower pot alive... Or a goldfish!

Heart of a Cowgirl said...

The flies are here in AZ full force, too. We do all that you mention but they still persist! Poor horses and goats... but, it's funny, the flies don't bother the goats as much as the horses, why is that?

Joanna@BooneDocksWilcox said...

Great post, well written. I have several fly bags around, since the bags attract flies, I have them hanging away from the barn and activity and they work well. Poultry poop, which we have plenty of, really attracts the flies. If one fly gets in the house, it will try to drive me crazy. Don't know yours, but ours bite!

Flartus said...

Oh great, Alix, start an international incident, why don't you? Sheesh!

We lived in an old farmhouse that no longer housed cows or horses, but were plagued by legions of deerflies. Ugh! Usually wearing a hat confounded them, but some years they were particularly aggressive. Ouch!

Next to that, I never worried about houseflies. But Dad did teach us how to smack 'em with our bare hands, and feed 'em to the chickens. A useful skill in any environment!

Pricilla said...

Oooh we are having misquitoes for the first time since we moved here. Now of course coming from New Jersey the things buzzing us here hardly qualify but they do bother the poor goats.

And there are the grasshoppers. But the chickens are feasting on them! Hooray for the chickens!

Bears Fan said...

I HATE flies...and we have them in the garage, flying in circles, and we have them by the goats, not too many however. Wish there was a miracle cure to relieve us of those pesky gross bugs!! lol..on the other hand, I too am so happy to be running around in jeans in tshirts, never mind the kids are in shorts! lol

Stephanie said...

Just have to add that allowing poultry access to the barns and pastures does help cut down on the flies alot. They will eat the larvae and the flies themselves.

Twisted Fencepost said...

Great information. I'll definitely keep those things in mind while combating our fly infestation around here. And may refer back.
Thank you!

Jenny said...

They are driving me crazy in the barn, too. We hung a fly trap, and it is catching some, but still...
I can't wait until our chicks are big enough that we start letting the chickens free range. I'm hoping they'll spend a bit of time in there taming the fly population.
~Jenny~

jaz said...

hmmmmm....i just realized after reading your post that while i dream of owning a farm with cute little chickens and fresh eggs every morning...and cute little goats hopping, hopping, and hopping...i never thought about flies!!! yuck!!!! i better add a dash of reality to my farm dreams!

milton f said...

My ninety year old neighbor taught me about something the Amish folks around here use- it is called Fly Bait. It is little blue crystals that you set out on a tray, where none of your other animals can get to it, and the flies are attracted, and this stuff kills them. IT WORKS!

Magaly Guerrero said...

Thanks again for my first award! I just passed it to a bunch of my favorite bloggers ;)

Jennifer said...

I did try the fly predators quite a few years ago. They are a little bit expensive, but I do remember them making a difference in the fly population!

I have not tried the fly bait Milton, but I have heard that it does work.

DayPhoto said...

Very well done. And for some reason here in western Colorado the flys are as bad as in August and September. Nasty! I wonder what the fall will bring.

Linda
http://coloradofarmlife.wordpress.com/

Heather said...

Great blog! Some day I would love to raise a few goats so I'm so pleased to have found you and all this great info!~

amanadoo said...

::shudders:: We have the same problem with biting flies around the horse barn. But you can definitely see the difference when we sic the chickens on the flies! They do a great job keeping the population in check.