21 hours ago
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