Warm weather will arrive soon and with increasing temperatures also come those annoying flies. They are more than simply bothersome; they are expensive! Flies contribute to decreased animal performance, increased risk of disease such as pink eye, and general animal suffering. In fact, it is estimated that flies cost the cattle industry at least $800 million annually.
Biting flies like the horn fly will feed 30-40 times per day. This can lead to lower milk production and reduced weaning weights — as much as 17 lbs. per 100 horn flies. The economic threshold is 100 to 200 flies per animal.
Know your enemy
The horn fly is responsible for most of the economic loss caused to cattle. It feeds on blood and has a lancing and sucking mouth part that generates a very painful bite. It primarily lives on the cow’s back and underbelly. Horn flies only leave the cow to lay eggs in freshly deposited manure. They are smaller than the other nuisance flies and unable to travel long distances.
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The face fly is a pasture fly that feeds on the mucus secretions around the eyes and nasal cavities. They have an abrasive sponging mouthpart that irritates the eye and surrounding skin, causing tearing. The face fly soaks in tears and other eye secretions and is a known transmitter of Moraxella bovis, which is the causative agent for bovine pink eye. They are only on the animal to feed and will spend the majority of their time resting on vegetation, fencing and buildings, otherwise leaving to lay their eggs in fresh manure.
The house fly is very common and can be responsible for spreading disease and general animal discomfort and irritation. They have a sucking mouthpart that feeds on liquids or soft material, which they regurgitate their saliva onto in order to soften the material. They can live in vegetation, barns and wooded areas, and lay their eggs in both manure and composted material.
The stable fly is a biting fly which is commonly found in barn lots or feedlot settings, however they can also be a nuisance to pasture cattle. They bite with a mouth part that has a piercing needle-like structure, which penetrates the hides of cattle and horses. They will lay their eggs in both manure and composted material.
Supplementation options for feed-through fly control
Timing is very important. You should start a fly control program 30 days prior to the expected arrival of flies. Available feed-through options such as ClariFly®, Rabon® and Altosid® will stop the development of the fly larvae in the manure. Altosid only controls the horn fly, but ClariFly and Rabon will control all four of the common fly species mentioned above. Any adult flies present when you start supplementing will not be controlled and you may need to do a knockdown treatment.
Consistent and predictable delivery with CRYSTALYX® Brand Supplements
The chart below outlines the available CRYSTALYX fly control options. We offer both mineral and protein supplements. Stable-lyx® with ClariFly is labeled for horses. The MAX products are a low-moisture mineral product, while PRO products are low-moisture protein blocks.
Feeding garlic as a natural fly repellent
Our NEW Mineral-lyx GFR supplement is a natural alternative to an insecticide or growth retardant and works to reduce fly levels on the cow by delivering garlic as a fly repellent.. This garlic gets into the cow’s system and is secreted though the skin and breath, which makes the cattle less appealing to flies. Field trials and customer experience have shown we can expect about a 50% reduction in fly counts.
A few years ago, the cattle industry was dealing with the VFD ruling and looking at alternatives to antibiotics. There were some garlic and essential oil products that — when fed at a high level —did have an impact on the rumen. A common observation was that cattle on these supplements smelled like garlic and had few flies. Through trial and error, it was determined that garlic was responsible for repelling the flies. Our Canadian customers have been using garlic for several years because feed-through larvicides have not been widely available.
The CRYSTALYX advantage
Consistent intake is critical to the success of a feed-through fly control program. The active agent needs to be consumed every day so there are consistent active levels in the manure. The molasses base of CRYSTALYX Brand Supplements helps to mask any unpleasant taste and ensures consistent, even intake across the herd.
Altosid® and ClariFly® are registered trademarks of Wellmark International.
Rabon® is a registered trademark of Bayer HealthCare LLC.