Shield Your Calves from the Fly Offensive: A Proactive Approach to a Stress-Free Summer

Summer’s warm breath is upon us, and the unwelcome buzz of flies comes with it. These pests are more than just a nuisance for your calves; they can spread diseases, disrupt sleep, and hinder growth. But fear not! By implementing a proactive fly control plan, you can create a haven of peace for your calves.

Know Your Enemy:

The first step is to identify the fly foes you’re facing. Stable flies, house flies, and blow flies are common culprits, and they are attracted to moist areas like manure piles and damp bedding. These “filth flies” thrive in unsanitary conditions. Pastures may also harbor biting flies like horse flies and face flies, causing irritation and stress to your calves.

A Multi-Pronged Defense:

Don’t wait for the fly invasion to begin! An Integrated Pest Management (IPM) plan offers the most vigorous defense. Here’s your arsenal:

  • Sanitation is King: Eliminate fly breeding grounds. Clean up manure regularly, remove spilled feed, and keep bedding dry. Spreading manure thinly allows for faster drying. Consider using alternative bedding like sand or wood shavings during warm months. Proper ventilation in calf hutches also helps.
  • Introducing Nature’s Bodyguards: Beneficial insects like parasitic wasps can be released in spring to target fly larvae. These tiny warriors prevent flies from reaching adulthood. Remember, some chemical controls can harm these natural allies, so choose wisely.
  • Disrupting the Fly Cycle: Feed additives containing insect growth regulators can be incorporated into milk or milk replacers before the fly season hits. These disrupt the development of fly larvae, leading to fewer adult flies buzzing around later.
  • Chemical Warfare (as a Last Resort): Judicious use of short-acting chemical controls can be helpful in specific situations. However, long-lasting residuals can promote fly resistance. Opt for space sprays or baits instead. Fly traps, pour-on insecticides, and sticky tapes can also be part of your IPM strategy.

The Sweet Reward:

A comprehensive fly control plan will create a calmer, healthier environment for your calves. This translates to better growth rates, less stress, and a more pleasant work environment for your calf care team. So, take a stand against the fly offensive and ensure your herd a happy, healthy summer.