Fly season is just around the corner, but you can keep your horses comfortable throughout the tail-swishing season with a few basic strategies. While flies are a nuisance, more importantly they represent a health threat to animals because of the spread of diseases associated with their infestation.
While almost impossible to completely eradicate them, it is worth the time and effort to keep your horses’ environment as fly-free as possible.
First Line of Defense: Stable Management
In the barn there are several things you can do to discourage flies from setting up camp.
- Remove manure. Flies are drawn to horse droppings. This is where they prefer to mate and lay eggs; resulting in larvae feast on the feces. To keep this from happening, clean your horse stalls and pens daily, removing the manure to an off-site location once a week if possible.
- Minimize moisture. Several fly species prefer wet areas for breeding as well as drinking. Keep stalls dry; eliminate standing puddles around your horses’ living areas; get rid of inadvertent water receptacles—old tires, no-longer-used buckets and feeders, etc.
- Cover feed. Place anything that will attract flies in garbage containers with bug-proof lids; keeping grains, concentrates, and treats securely stored.
- Offer shade and good airflow. A breezy, shaded area will help your pastured horses avoid flies. In the stable a barn fan is a great fly-chaser.
The Well-Rounded Attack
Combine one or more of the following methods with good stable management and you’ll keep the bugs around the barn to a minimum.
- Barn Spray System. These mechanized systems automatically mist a fast-acting natural insecticide (pyrethrum) throughout your barn several times a day, killing and/or repelling flies. Once installed, these systems are highly effective and hassle-free. Pyrethrum is environment-friendly and biodegrades within 30 minutes of spraying.
- Topicals. Sprays, roll-ons, wipe-ons, and spot-ons provide a contact repellent or vapor barrier to make your horse less attractive to flies. Topicals will help keep your horse comfortable but are not sufficient alone as a prevention program.
- Barriers. Masks, sheets, and boots are anti-fly wear and offer good sun protection, especially for horses with exposed pink skin.
- Traps. Bait or other attractants lure flies where they perish. To utilize these products effectively you need to know which type of flies you have and select the traps accordingly.
Source: Equisearch, Jennifer Forsberg Meyer