Fly season is in full swing. Horn flies cost the beef industry upwards of $1 billion annually, in losses from poor cow and bull performance, lowered weaning weights, and disease. Producers spend upwards of $600 million dollars to combat files. When you consider what’s at stake, how do you know if your fly control program working for you and your cattle?
For Your Cattle
The simplest way to know if your program is working is it look at your cattle and estimate the fly population. Count in the morning, and look at 10-15 head. Horn flies congregate on the back and sides of animals. Counts of 50-100 flies per side (100-200 per head) or less are acceptable. Fly counts above that start to impact animal performance.
If you wonder what the effects are of high fly counts are on your cattle, look no further than the mirror. How much does one fly buzzing around your head bug you? Now multiply that by 100. Biting flies, such as horn flies, stress cattle. They seek relief from the flies by either bunching together or standing in or around water. Either way, they are spending more time trying to escape the flies and less time grazing. Lowered feed intakes mean decreased performance.
Flies cost the cattle industry money. Lactating cows with large horn fly populations have lowered milk yields which means weaning weights lowered by 13-15 lbs. With a nationwide average of $1.70/lb* for 4-5 CWT calves, that’s $22 to $25 per head that went to the flies!
Horn flies cause the most heart burn, but they aren’t the only pest on your cattle. Face and house flies are the disease spreaders. While these flies don’t irritate cattle via bites, they do get into their eyes and noses. Pink eye is the most common disease these flies carry, again hitting your wallet with treatment costs and lost performance.
When selecting your fly control program, be certain that you are penciling in all the costs associated with it:
- Cost of the product (include cost per head per day for the season, calves too)
- Labor to use product (include your time, as well as other family members, in addition to hired help)
- Equipment (wear and tear on chutes, taggers, replacing dust bags, etc.)
Having all the costs in black and white can help you make the best decision for your operation.
Flies are a major nuisance that cost cattle producers major bucks. However, with a little extra planning and observation, you can stay ahead of the flies and keep your cattle grazing comfortably all summer long. Visit our website, CRYSTALYX® Fly Control Options, to learn more about our feed-thru options. Or talk to your local CRYSTALYX® dealer.