When flies bite your horse and feed on his blood, in serious cases, they can potentially cause digestive problems and even stunt your horse's growth. In order to protect both your horse and barn from fly infestation this year it's important to understand the fly life cycle. |
Elimination of breeding site is the key to a successful fly control program. Barns and corrals should be cleaned once a week to break fly life cycles. Removed manure and other fly breeding materials should be spread thinly over an appropriate area or composted, if practical.
House flies and stable flies need breeding material, moisture, and warmth to develop. A successful fly control program must rely on timely elimination of breeding sites and moisture control. Insecticides can help to provide some temporary reduction of house fly and stable fly populations but cannot be the basis of effective fly management.
Maintain good drainage to eliminate wet manure, spilled feed, and hay or straw. Check for and correct wet areas around animal waterers. Dry manure and accumulated organic matter are not good breeding sites.
Screening is an excellent way to keep flies out of feed and tack rooms and box stalls. Fans that direct a downward and outward air flow will keep flies from entering barns. Fly traps and sticky paper will capture flies. They may be most useful as a means of documenting fly numbers over time. A significant increase in catch from one week to the next can be a warning to check on sanitation and to increase fly control measures.
Several commercial firms offer a fly parasite (predator) release program that can be used to supplement fly control. While many types of flies can bug your horse during spring and summer, you will most likely be dealing with house flies and stable flies. These thrive around horse barns as they prefer horses and manure for both feeding and breeding locations.
Manure piles are fly breeding heaven. Did you know the average 1000 pound horse generates 50 pounds of manure a day? Therefore, proper manure management is essential in the prevention of fly breeding. Getting manure out of the stall as quickly as possible is the first step. You don't want to inadvertently create a fly breeding ground in your horse's stall. So, the more manure removed from the stall the less desirable area for egg deposition. Once you remove the manure make sure to store it as far away as possible from your barn.
Not only does manure in stalls need to be removed, but manure deposited in your pasture needs to be dealt with as well. Field deposited manure helps fertilize your horse's pasture, however it also serves as a fly control of breeding ground. Areas where horses congregate such as water troughs, shady areas, run-in sheds and gates should be cleaned weekly at a minimum to diminish fly breeding and control parasites.
In addition to picking your fields, you can also drag the fields to evenly distribute manure in a thin layer over a wide area. This will allow the manure to quickly dry out. As flies deposit eggs in the top few inches of moist manure, minimizing moist manure surface area is an effective fly reduction strategy. Flies cannot develop in dry environments, so spreading manure thinly is the first step in trying to break the fly life cycle.
Remember, it's easier and more effective to prevent fly breeding than to control adult flies. So the quicker you can remove their habitat, the less likely you are to see these pests.
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