Oklahoma Farm Report masthead graphic with wheat on the left and cattle on the right.
Howdy Neighbors!
Ron Hays, Director of Farm and Ranch Programming, Radio Oklahoma Ag Network  |  2401 Exchange Ave, Suite F, Oklahoma City, Ok 73108  |  (405) 601-9211


Agricultural News

Shoo Fly, Donít Bother Me. Or my Cows!

Wed, 07 Jul 2021 08:37:09 CDT

Shoo Fly, Donít Bother Me. Or my Cows! Farming in the winter is usually not a livestock producerís favorite time of the year. But, if I must give it a positive aspect, the lack of flies and other flying pests make it somewhat enjoyable compared to when those same critters burst forth in full swing come summer.

Flies, mosquitoes, and biting gnats can cause a plethora of problems on the farm, including the spread of disease and causing undue stress to stock, leading to diminished performance. House flies are the benign, although annoying, fly species that you may encounter in confinement situations, such as freestall barns or covered feedlots compared to pastured animals. Sanitation is the main management strategy to keep them under control. Keep manure and old feed from remaining near animals too long. You may also choose to purchase a parasitic wasp kit for your region. These wasps feed upon the larvae of the flies, preventing the metamorphosis into adulthood. This strategy is to be done in conjunction with increased sanitation.

Biting flies are the major pests of cattle and can be split into two groups based on their mouthparts. Biting flies can have a piercing/sucking mouthpart or a scissor-like mouthpart. Stable flies fall into the piercing/sucking category and like to attack the legs of animals. According to Oklahoma State University, beef cattle in a feedlot setting with more than 5 flies per foreleg can decrease their average daily weight gain by 0.48 lb/day. The university states that this can increase an animalís time in the feedlot by up to 30 days Ė a large increase in costs especially with current feed prices. Stable flies prefer to reproduce in moist environments, so soiled bedding, old feed, and manure piles are prime areas to locate stable fly eggs. Sanitation, sticky traps, and sprays can help in controlling this fly population.

Horn flies, on the other hand, are considered to be the greatest pest of cattle on pasture. Economic hits of about $700 million per year are felt by the U.S. beef industry from this fly (University of Florida). Male and female flies take blood meals and spend the entirety of their life on cattle. The action threshold for horn flies is 200 flies/animal and when flies are properly controlled, growing and finishing cattle are able to gain 1.5 more pounds per day. Insecticides and insecticide-impregnated ear tags are effective control methods when formulas are rotated to prevent insect resistance.

The flies that bite with scissor-like mouthparts are called tabanids and cause extreme pain and bleeding when present in great population numbers. Tabanids include the green-headed horse fly, the black horse fly, and the deer fly. Identification of these flies is relatively easy: the green-headed fly will be green in appearance; the black horse fly is probably the most recognizable with its large size and intimidating buzzing of wings; the deer fly will be smallest of the bunch and gray in appearance. These flies prefer to lay their eggs in muddy ground near ponds and streams, so control at reproduction can be difficult. Permethrin sprays can be effective for short bouts of time but wear away quickly. An oil-based spray will last longer for animals housed on pasture. These flies are important to control not only because of the discomfort they cause, but also because they have been documented to carry anaplasmosis, a blood disease that destroys red blood cells, and tularemia, a disease affecting lymph nodes and lungs.

The last fly to discuss is the heel fly, often called northern cattle grubs. Eggs are laid on the hair of cattle and the larvae burrow into the skin, eventually migrating to the crest of the neck and the spine. Once along the back of the animal, the larvae will again cut through the hide to breathe through a hole called a warble. This not only causes cattle to decrease performance and weight gain, but also reduces value of the hide for leather use and potentially the amount of carcass if warbling is extensive. Using pour-on or injectable endectocides are methods of control but may cause inflammation or other adverse effects if applied once larvae reach the esophageal and spinal area (Ohio treatment cutoff date is November 1). Talk with your veterinarian to determine the best course of action.

Flies can be largely detrimental to a cattle operation Ė whether it is dairy or beef or in confinement or on pasture. So, in summary, be vigilant in your pest control to control profit loss and improve cattle welfare. Your cattle will thank you!


Article courtesy of Haley Zynda, AgNR Educator, OSU Extension Wayne County for u.osu.edu


WebReadyTM Powered by WireReady® NSI


Top Agricultural News

  • Water Resources Center part of Five-year USDA Dam Project  Fri, 23 Jul 2021 09:38:47 CDT
  • Research Shows Grazing Cattle Provide Many Benefits For Both Humans And The Environment  Fri, 23 Jul 2021 06:50:48 CDT
  • Plains Grains Calls Southern Plains Wheat Harvest 100 Percent Done for 2021  Fri, 23 Jul 2021 05:37:21 CDT
  • Feeder Steers Steady to Higher, Feeder Heifers Higher, Steer and Heifer Calves Unvenly Steady at Woodward on Thursday  Fri, 23 Jul 2021 05:25:39 CDT
  • Oklahoma Grain Elevator Cash Bids as of 2:00 p.m, Thursday, July 22  Thu, 22 Jul 2021 16:20:08 CDT
  • Oklahoma optimism is High as 91% of the State remains Drought free According to the latest Drought Monitor   Thu, 22 Jul 2021 16:09:42 CDT
  • Cattle Hides in High Demand- Pushing Drop Credit Values to Best Levels Since 2015  Thu, 22 Jul 2021 14:19:41 CDT
  • Dr. Rosslyn Biggs offers advice on Testing New Additions to the Herd  Thu, 22 Jul 2021 13:36:27 CDT

  • More Headlines...


    Ron salutes our daily email sponsors!

    Oklahoma Beef council Oklahoma Ag Credit Oklahoma Farm Bureau National Livestock Credit Ag Mediation Program P&K Equipment Tulsa Farm Show Union Mutual Stillwater Milling Oklahoma Cattlemen's Association KIS FUTURES, INC.

    Our Road to Rural Prosperity sponsors!


    Search OklahomaFarmReport.com

    © 2008-2021 Oklahoma Farm Report
    Email Ron   |   Newsletter Signup   |    Current Spots   |    Program Links

    WebReady powered by WireReady® Inc.