Saturday, July 6, 2013

Fighting the Battle with Flies in Livestock Areas

( Rendering of fly:  )


     Flies of different kinds can not only be a nuisance to animals but they can bring disease, result in eye infections, contaminate wounds, and lay eggs in wounds which eventually result in maggot infestation.  There are an abundance of different types of flies and what type you have depends largely on your area of the world, and the amount of water and general attractants to these insects.   It is beyond the scope of this post to do a survey of all the types of flies, and so I am simply going to jump to potential strategies of abatement and avoidance.  Some flies are more easily dissuaded from occupying your area than others.  It will likely take several strategies to decrease them in numbers from your farm or rural home.
                  Flies are attracted to water, livestock, urine, stool, and any type of open wound. They are also attracted to wet hay, or any foodstuffs which are left beyond consumption. (Like soft dog or cat food left in the bowl.)   First, we should try to avoid the items we know will attract them.   My manure pile is therefore quite a distance from the animals themselves.  The flies tend to congregate there and there are fewer numbers with the animals themselves.   Second, clean up stall stool and urine as soon as you can.  I do this twice daily.
I accidentally found a way to decrease flies in the barn.   Although my horses stay in a pasture for most of the day, they each sleep inside a stall all night, and of course, being horses, they urinate and defecate there.   I found that if each morning when I turn out the horses, I sweep out the urine soaked and horse pattied pine shavings. Then, I sweep away the clean pine shavings to the side of the stall.  Then I place about an 1/8 cup per 12x12 stall, of non-toxic Simple Green liquid and then I mop the concrete using a large wet mop.  The stalls smell sweet and the flies stay away.   (I use an industrial string mop and a big yellow industrial bucket with wringer attachment I got from Sam's Club.  Simple Green in industrial sized bottles is also available there rather cheaply.
                    Of course, this does not keep the flies away OUTSIDE the barn.  These are some strategies we can use for that:

First, we can invest in any number of types of physical fly traps.  This is the least expensive and I think it works really well for houseflies especially.

I bait mine with orange juice, but I am told that genuine pancake syrup works best.  I use Shoo Glue as the glue to construct these.  Most of us have plenty of soda bottles.  (Photo: )


This year being truly pushed for time I bought a number of these from Tractor Supply.  They are available everywhere from Amazon to

These come with a tube of non-insecticidal lure, and work very effectively.


There is value in some of the electronic bug zappers.  Some of them can eradicate flies from a large area of square footage.

Some of these are quite expensive, but may be very helpful.

                There are


This Farnum product is a natural fly repellant for both horse and for rider.

Of course, sometimes the best course of action is to use a true pesticide.  If an animal has an abraded area, sometimes a pyrethrin cream for the region is a good idea as it allows the abraded or irritated region the opportunity to heal.

This is a long an authoritative listing of strategies for dealing with flies in livestock areas from milkrooms to 
perimeter area treatments. It indicates when pesticides are appropriate and how much to use.   This was written by the Virginia Cooperative Extension Office.


K said...

The homemade bottle trap is a great idea that I haven't seen before. I'll be making that one for the next BBQ to check it out. Thanks.

Linda said...

I know mopped on Clorox keeps flies away, but Simple Green would be so much better! Do you ever use DE?

JaneofVirginia said...

I bought a fair amount of excellent grade diatomaceous earth intending to use it on alpaca feed in an attempt to prevent internal parasites in alpacas. The farm bet who is very cutting edge said that it had been studied and that it causes micro-colitis and bleeding in stool in alpacas, so I have never used it in that way. I did then plan to use it to decrease flies and insects in manure piles, but I never have. Alpaca composting dung piles don't smell much and don't really attract flies. The horse manure pile is accompanied with pine shavings, and once the manure and pine mixture gets to that particular pile, other than what looks like gnat activity, it seems clear. Chicken and duck manure are smellier but that gets scooped up, and we rotate their structures. Sometime, I will use what we have.

JaneofVirginia said...

There are several designs out there and they do work well.

Linda said...

Yes, I understand. I have DE at the ready. The hens share one Rubbermaid box for laying. I have noticed little things like fruit flies or gnats, so it is time for a sprinkle in the box. I take a bag and empty it into a dozen Kraft Parmesan cheese sprinkler bottles and put them everywhere for ready use. As for smell, I don't want the neighbors to get a whiff even though there dogs put loads in my yard that are full of flies all the time.

JaneofVirginia said...

Linda, What an excellent idea. I used to use giant spice containers (from Sam's Club large chives containers) filled with baking soda for the same reason. I stopped doing that when I we spread the chickens out into smaller groups and they had less environmental impact. I could package DE in large talcum powder containers which can be bought in an art store, or even in the industrial cooking store.

Kristin said...

Hahaha! Thank you for the post. I'll have to try some of those traps. The fly paper is nasty, but has been helping.

JaneofVirginia said...

I didn't even mention the fly paper. I figure we've all used that from time to time and had it get in an animals hair or our own. BTW, I got it in my hair one year, and Dawn dishwashing liquid does help to dissolve the glue somewhat, but it's still a lot of work and I would like to think I won't use fly paper again.
There are lots of anti-fly strategies but interestingly what works well at one farm may not at another. Three miles from here there is a farm owned by one of my friends and she has different fly issues than I do. I am forested on the outer edges of the farm and have lakes nearby. She is eighty acres of open, flat and green property, and this was enough to greatly change the insect problems she has compared to mine.

Sunnybrook Farm said...

I notice that my horse will hang out near the pond where there are hundreds of dragon flies, I am beginning to wonder if they are catching flies that are attracted to him. I have been cleaning up all the manure that I can find and putting it on the garden and hay field. This seems to help some but I have resorted to putting fly repellent on him.

JaneofVirginia said...

I think you're right. I think the horse might be going to the place where the flies are being caught by the dragon flies. I spray a natural fly repellant that Southern States Cooperative sells around the edge of the wall where the stall corners are. This keeps flies out of there. However, the horses hate the potpourri smell and it is intended to be sprayed on THEM.