Tuesdays with Tony
The Flies Have It
Hope you all are staying healthy out there. It is certainly an odd situation we are all in. It really is starting to become a bit more of the norm around here. We are all split into teams and everyone is adjusting well, as are all of you. I must take the time to give you all some major recognition and thank you for being understanding and accommodating to this new way of life. Really, my life hasn’t changed much, I still get my minions to open and close the door to let me in and then out and then back in again about 500 times a day. I still find time for lengthy naps in the sun, and of course I find time to eat. But enough about me and my life (well not really, it is always all about me) but let’s talk about this week’s topic, Fly Control. Every year about this time the flies really start to drive us crazy. The weather is warm, there’s moisture in the air, and the breeding grounds for flies are abundant. So, before your farm is swarming with flies, let’s talk about what you can do to control them.
Perhaps the most important step in fly control is to eliminate their breeding spots. Flies love warm, moist areas like wash racks, manure bins, or anywhere that water and feed or bedding material accumulate. Avoid having standing water around your barn and be sure to rake up any hay or bedding that may find itself at the end of your barn aisle.
Let’s talk poop. We all know horses poop, A LOT! I hear you guys complain about your horse’s poop all the time. Some even go on to say, “I wish my horse would just stop pooping so much”. But then you all panic and freak out and call my docs when your horse doesn’t poop. So, which is it? To poop or not to poop, that is the question. Please make up your minds, it gets confusing for this old cat to follow.
Assuming you want your horse too keep pooping, you have to decide what to do with their manure. Well, there are many different options and some are better than others for fly control. You can spread the manure and wet bedding, however, if you do, be sure to spread it far from your barn, because I can guarantee the flies will find it and they will love it for laying their eggs. Larva will be happy little campers in the manure you spread. You can compost the manure, when you compost you make the waste so hot, no fly larva would survive. You can have you manure taken off your property by professionals. This may be the best option, however most manure haulers will only pick up a certain number of times a month. What that means is, you will have manure piles sitting around on your property making the flies very happy. If you chose to have your manure hauled away, I recommend that you cover the manure pile with a tarp to trap in the heat. Remember, flies don’t like extreme heat. What you do with your manure is up to you, but be prepared that no matter what you do, there will be some management involved in preventing soiled bedding from becoming the flies most sought after place.
I never knew there were so many fly spray options. There are all-natural sprays, there are concentrated sprays, oil based, water based, wipe on, spray on, the list goes on and on. How does one even know where to begin on picking out the best spray for your horse? My answer is always, research. Which sprays have research behind them, and which sprays have been proven to work in a research setting? My docs have taught me a thing or two about the importance of making sure a product or treatment has research that supports it.
When it comes to fly spray, there have been numerous studies done. One such study looked at several products. They put the flies on one side of a container, something really smelly and nasty on the other side, and fly spray in the middle. Two products out-shined all the others: SmartPak’s Out Smart and EcoVet. My docs like to keep the Out Smart on their trucks. It has a nice minty fresh smell to it that is not horribly offensive. I’ve been unfortunate enough to be around when Ecovet has been sprayed and let me tell you, that is one interesting smell. The nice part of Ecovet is it is made of all amino acids and it works. I’ve heard through the grape vine however, that Ecovet has improved their product and has hopefully made the smell slightly less offensive. Either way, whichever product you chose, be certain to read the label and use as instructed. Similarly, use caution when trying a new product on your horse. Some horses are more sensitive than others and some ingredients may cause reactions.
These tiny little bugs are my favorite bugs for fly control. They come in a prepackaged baggy with their own bedding. Once they hatch, you put them out around your barn where the flies like to accumulate and breed. These clever little bugs take over the fly’s cocoon, killing the immature flies. Fly predators are safe, safe, safe. There are no toxins and they will not become pests. All they do is get rid of bigger pests: flies. You can get an order once a month and sprinkle them around areas where organic material accumulates. It is better to start the fly predators before the warmer months, but it is never too late to start them, either. One important point: they only travel 3 to 5 feet. Make sure you have enough to cover the area you are treating.
Feed-Through Fly Control
Yes! We get to talk about food! If ever there was a poster child for “Will Work for Food” it is this guy right here. Sadly, we aren’t going to talk about cat food right now, but we are going to talk about feed-through fly control for your horse. Does it work? That is always the question I get from people, and the answer is yes, absolutely, if it is used correctly. The feed-through fly controls must be used appropriately in order to be effective. This means that every single horse in the barn must have the product added to their feed. When the horses eat the product, it is passed through to their manure, and breaks the lifecycle of the fly at its larval stage and prevents maturation of adult flies. Feed-through fly controls should be started prior to the weather warming up. However, they can be started at any time, just be patient as it can take 4-6 weeks to see the effects the feed-through fly control has on the fly population.
Flies can be a pest, they can spread disease and cause the dreaded summer sores. But they don’t have to. It will take some work and patience on your part, but your barn can be relatively fly free. And let’s face it, now is a great time to get to work on improving your barn and reducing your fly population. What else are you going to do while on quarantine?
Until next week,
P.S. If you really want to go to the next level with your fly control knowledge, my docs have a couple of podcasts on this topic. Check them out on our Podcast Page or subscribe wherever you get your podcasts.
Tuesdays with Tony is the official blog of Tony the Clinic Cat at Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic in Newberry, Florida. If you liked this blog, please subscribe below, and share it with your friends on social media! For more information, please call us at (352) 472-1620, visit our website at SpringhillEquine.com, or follow us on Facebook!