Flies Really Bite. Are they Bugging the Cows?

Biting flies can sure make life miserable for cattle, horses and even people!  Big or small, those insects can inflict painful sores on the eyes, face, teats, and bags of the animal.   When I was a kid we would pour a stinky liquid on cattle – and it seems that that is the most popular solution today.   BUT!   It turns out there are excellent solutions without toxic gick!

Photo Source Kristie Wheaton


1) This is a very long term solution, but don’t panic!  Items further down the list can provide solutions for the short term.  If you watch carefully, you will see that some cows get flies and some don’t.  Breed the cows that don’t get flies.  Sell the cows that do get flies.  It really does work.   Some people that have reported success with this say that the cows that don’t get flies appear to have oilier hair.

2) Move the cows daily. Run chickens three days behind the cows.  This gets the cows to move away from the poop that is now hatching new flies.   The chickens dig through the poop to get the maggots.  Yum!

2.1) Move the cows more often even if you don’t tun the chickens behind the cows. This may help as much as 40%.

2.2) If you are going to move the animals just once a week, put the chickens in there with them.

3) Build dozens (hundreds) of bird houses. Or, as a shorter term solution, throw out heaps of bird feed.  Lots of birds will then be around the flies and birds think flies are made of ice cream.

4) Parasitic wasps.  These are teeny tiny little insects that think it is hilarous to make biting fly maggots into parasitic wasp baby nurseries.  This usually has a deadly effect on the maggot so it never gets a chance to be a fly.   Here in Montana you would have to buy new wasps every month or so during fly season. Want to give them a try? Check them out here.

5) Bats will eat a few of the flies, but they will eat a lot of things that other fly-eating things like too.   One fly-eating example is birds.   So it turns out that when birds are hungry for insects, there isn’t much else to eat but biting flies.

6) Hummingbirds (grow lots of plants that hummingbirds like).   Hummingbirds are famous for their love of nectar, but they eat insects too.   And hummingbirds are mighty quick.   Quicker than a fly.

Photo Source Madeline Dennis


7) Fly Traps.

Here is an example of a fly trap from Peaceful Valley Farm Supply.

And another example of a fly trap from Peaceful Valley Farm Supply.

8) I once saw a contraption that was a big plastic, vertical sheet about the size of a cow.

I found a picture:


The one I saw was much simpler than this, but this should do to give you an idea. The big vertical sheet makes the flies think “snacks!” and they bumpity-bump around the plastic until they end up in the soapy water. Their teeny tiny screams cannot be heard.

This guy is pointing out that with just this one thing, he has a complete solution!

Several of these solutions will be a complete solution by themselves, but I would probably implement three or four just to be sure.



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