by Dave L. Biehl, DVM
Posted: Wednesday, June 29, 2011
You can reduce pesky flies with a few simple alternatives to insecticides:
Keep Stalls and Run-in Sheds Clean
Pick up manure at least twice daily, cover your manure spreader with fly netting, and keep manure far away from your daytime shelter. Spray the manure with organic fly control to kill the adult flies or spread predators on the pile to kill larvae.
Leg and Body Protection
Mesh leg wraps protect the horse’s legs without overheating sensitive soft tissue. Use wraps that are durable and will not loosen or slip down the horse’s legs, risking more serious injury as they stomp their feet or travel. Fly Wraps, the original, are very effective and good quality. They also come in sets of four. Remove wraps at night when flies are dormant. Mesh Fly Sheets work well. Watch for areas that may rub and cause hair loss. Usually good quality sheets that fit well will not be a problem and again you can remove in the evenings.
Clean Feed Tubs Periodically
Sweet feed that attracts your horse also attracts flies. If feed tubs are attached to a wall, scrub out as conscientiously as your dinner plate. Preferably use only plastic or rubber tubs that can be removed from a stall after each feeding and cleaned.
Screen-in Shady Stalls and Run-in Sheds
Closing doors facing South and East reduces sun intensity but increases fly congregation. Use mesh/screened products that allow air circulation but keep flies out. Increasing air movement with fans will also help.
Treat Grain with Garlic
Garlic may be one of the most researched and talked about herbs in equine and human health fields. Among all the wonderful things garlic can do for us and our animals is it ability as a natural fly repellent. Use small amount at first and even mix into a little sweet feed or you can mix with apple sauce. Gradually increase the amount of Garlic as the horse tolerates it. There are many herbal fly repellents that already contain garlic that are flavored and that may be the easiest route.
A biological fly control system using tiny insects that prey on the flies in their larval state, aims to stop the cycle of fly infestation before it begins. Releasing the tiny insects, prior to fly season, into manure piles and other areas in which flies commonly lay their eggs can reduce the number of flies by as much as 80%.
The people at Organic Control, a supplier of the tiny creatures, say, “the gnat-sized insects don’t bother humans or animals as they are nocturnal, do not bite or sting and are rarely even seen, but when used as directed they can dramatically reduce the fly population. “The biggest problem I have seen with fly predators is unless you are quite a ways from other horse or cow populations they may not work as expected unless the neighbors are also using them.
Dr. Biehl has been an Equine Practitioner in Nebraska for 35 years and continues in Equine practice as an Equine Healthcare Consultant for Heartland Veterinary Supply and Pharmacy.
by Dave L. Biehl, DVM