The temperatures are rising, the days keep getting longer and we all want to spend more time at the barn with our horses. Unfortunately, humans aren’t the only ones itching to get out to the barn during this time of year. Flies are getting ready to make your barn their home.
Not only are these insects annoying, but they can spread disease. When flies bite your horse and feed on his blood in serious cases, they can potentially cause digestive problems and even stunt your horse’s growth. In order to protect both your horse and barn from fly infestation this year it’s important to understand the fly control options.
Equine Manure Management - Proper manure management is essential in the prevention of fly breeding. Getting manure out of the stall and away from the barn as quickly as possible is the first step. Not only does manure in stalls need to be removed, but manure deposited in your pasture needs to be dealt with as well. Field deposited manure helps fertilize your horse’s pasture; however it also serves as a fly breeding ground. In addition to picking your fields, you can also drag the fields to evenly distribute manure in a thin layer over a wide area. This will allow the manure to quickly dry out minimizing moist manure surface area leading to an effective fly reduction strategy. Flies cannot develop in dry environments, so spreading manure thinly is the first step in trying to break the fly life cycle.
Horse Fly Repellent - There are two types of fly repellent available to protect your horse from adult flies, spray on and feed through. Augusta Co-op offers a variety of different fly spray for you to choose from ranging from standard chemical based to newer non-toxic herbal alternatives. Regardless of which type you choose be sure to read the label for application instructions. Remember fly spray needs to be reapplied as horses sweat, get wet and after exposure to direct sunlight as this can lower the effectiveness of the repellent.
An alternative to external fly repellent is to feed your horse an internal fly repellent. There are several products out on the market that have been specially developed to deter flies from landing on your horse or you can go with old fashion garlic and apple cider vinegar. Internal fly repellent works by having the horse secrete oils that will repel flies and keep flies from biting. As flies “taste” with their feet, only they will know the horse smells and therefore taste bad. Humans will not be able to notice the difference. It takes a while to build up this bad tasting effect so it is recommended that you combine internal with external fly repellent at the beginning of the equine fly season. When using feed through repellent it is not necessary for every horse on your property to be receiving it in their feed.
Horse Fly Spray Systems - A more comprehensive approach to fly repellent is to install an insect control system in your horse barn. The system automatically delivers a fine mist of insecticide at preset intervals throughout your facility. Water-based and plant based insecticides can be used with the insect control system so you do not have to worry about potential toxicity affecting your horses, dogs, cats and people that inhabit your barn.
Equine Fly Gear - Regardless what fly prevention strategies you put in place there will most likely always be some bugs around your horse this spring and summer. If you have a horse that is especially sensitive to bug bites you may want to consider dressing them in equine fly gear such as fly masks or fly sheets. Additionally, both protect from harmful UV rays.