Damaging infestations of horn flies on cattle are a result of improperly carried out fly-control measures. (Photo by Dave Boxler, University of Nebraska–Lincoln Extension)
Damaging infestations of horn flies on cattle are a result of improperly carried out fly-control measures. (Photo by Dave Boxler, University of Nebraska–Lincoln Extension)

Spring green up is around the corner, and the warmer temperatures will bring unwelcomeguests—flies and pests—to the farm and ranch.


Sanitation and prevention are the primary keys to managing pest problems in livestock and equine operations.

Horn flies and stable flies are the most common and can cost cattle operations across the country millions of dollars each year.

Before choosing a management plan, livestock owners should consider what types of flies they are dealing with, their breeding areas and the environment.

The stable fly, one of the most significant livestock pests in the U.S., can be costly to ranchers. And the level of harm increases when populations reach more than 20 per animal, according to Texas A&M AgriLife Extension.

Research shows that heavy infestations of stable flies on beef cattle can reduce weight gains by 25%.


Stable Flies

Stable flies primarily gather on the lower parts of the legs of animals. They develop from the egg to adult stage in about three to four weeks. An adult female stable fly lives for three to four weeks and lays 500 to 600 eggs during her lifetime.

Their painful bite causes attacked animals to stomp and kick their legs, and cattle will typically herd together to try to avoid them.

“Stable flies are best managed by sanitation. They breed in decomposing vegetation and manure mixed with vegetation. Continual maintenance of manure and hay is a must,” says Assistant Professor Sonja Swiger, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension veterinary entomologist.

Livestock owners can manage stable flies by eliminating breeding sites. Stables should be kept clean, and decomposing hay and other material should be removed to prevent colonization of stable flies. Wet food should not be left in troughs.


Horn Flies

Horn flies, which are typically found on the animal’s back, shoulders and sides, are the most damaging insect for beef cattle in Texas and many other states.

Horn flies develop from the egg to the adult stage within 10 to 20 days and live for about three weeks. Topical products are available for the treatment of horn flies in cattle.


House Flies

House flies are another common pest for most livestock.

Swiger says that house flies are best controlled by good sanitation practices, keeping manure cleaned up and keeping feed dry and covered.

Bayer Animal Health experts offer suggestions for livestock owners to protect against seasonal pests.

Cattle producers can use ear tags, animal sprays, dusts and pour-on insecticides to control pests that primarily live on the animal. Baits, dusts or sprays can be used to treat barns, pens, stables and other facilities where these flies are a problem.

A feed-through insecticide can be used to eliminate fly larva where they breed before they become adult flies.

Insecticide resistance can be managed by rotating the type of insecticide used. Bayer recommends rotating at least every year between insecticides from different chemical classes with different modes of action.

For more information: http://texasfarmbureau.org/take-defense-spring-pests/