Integrated Pest Management for Large Livestock


We breed bucking bulls here at the 4B Ranch and pay big bucks for top genetics. The last thing we want to do is damage that pricey DNA by using pesticides for fly control. But let unchecked, flies can cause disease and decrease weight gain and milk production along with lots of misery with their biting, buzzing and swarming. We've found we can control these pests organically with an integrated approach.

Our recipe for relief has multiple interlocking parts. First, good sanitation is key. Manure is cleaned up daily into composting piles. There is no standing water or pooling urine. Spring through fall we release fly parasites on an every three week schedule. These small insects disrupt the fly life cycle.

Fly parasites have been around for more than 20 years and are available from several reputable sellers that you can find on the web. These beneficial insects only affect flies and are both easy to use and economic. You can get good fly traps and bait from many of the same companies. These vary quite a bit so I recommend you read product reviews before buying a system.

We also move our cattle through fly boxes daily during fly season when they come in for grain feeding. Fly boxes are covered frames that are covered with adhesive bait on the interior. Flies jump off the cows and stick to the inside of the box where they die. We also have free range laying chickens that are free to roam our pastures. The birds do a great job of eating fly larva and parasite eggs. And we get wonderful rich yolked eggs as a side benefit.

If the weather is really hot and humid, or we get an influx of flies from a neighboring farm, we use some organic pesticide application directly on the animals but most of the time, this is unnecessary. We have not needed to place insecticide ear tags. That's it. And I can walk around out in my pastures and not get ate alive. My cattle can relax and concentrate on chewing their cuds, making babies and watching their chickens unworried by nasty biting pests.

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