How harmful are flies in the South? Very! It’s a constant battle we deal with in the warmer months. We have to take strides to try and control the problems that flies can cause.
Just about every day we run a backpack sprayer through the freestall barn to knock down the flies in the heat of the afternoon for the milking herd. We also take the backpack sprayer and spray all the growing heifers. The sprayer we use every day is a pyrethrin spray. This type of spray only kills the flies it comes in contact with at that time.
Once a month we take a pump-up sprayer and spray the heifers with a permethrin spray. This helps but can only be used once a month. If it is used more often than that it can cause resistant flies, which is a huge problem because then you’re battling a fly problem with no weapon.
We put fly tags in the growing heifers’ ears as well. This is a tool we used to help with fly control and so far, we have seen pretty decent effects from them.
We have also used fly socks. These are helpful for the cows we don’t come in contact with constantly. We will string them up where those cows come up to eat every day. They walk under them and they rub down their backs.
Flies cause multitudes of problems, with mastitis being the main one. Heat stress is already a big deal, so we don’t want the herd to have stress from biting flies as well. We have seen heifers calve with only two or three working quarters, and sometimes even worse, and we are pretty certain it is caused from biting flies.
You know it is time to start taking control of the fly situation when you see the herd bunching and stomping. Less stress always makes for a happier herd.
Mark and Caitlin Rodgers are dairy farmers in Dearing, Georgia. The Rodgers have a 400-cow dairy that averages 32,000 pounds of milk. Follow their family farm on Facebook at Hillcrest Farms Inc.