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Managing flies on cattle farms

Quick facts

  • Different species of flies bother cattle in different locations on the farm - some in barns, some on pasture. 
  • Different species of flies can be found in different locations on the animal - some species visit the face, some visit legs and so on. 
  • In general, preventing fly populations through cleanliness and sanitation is the most effective way to manage flies on the farm.

Why is it important to manage flies on the farm?

  • Many of the behaviors caused by flies can lead to decreased production.
  • Fly populations on the farm have the potential to increase disease transmission. 
  • Large populations of flies on the farm may become a nuisance to humans.
  • Different kinds of flies affect different areas of the operation and cause different behaviors in cattle 

There are several kinds of flies that can cause issues on the farm. The typical culprits in Minnesota are stable flies, house flies, face flies and horn flies.

You’ll want to determine what’s pestering your animals to figure out the various methods for managing that particular fly problem. Identifying the type of fly or flies that you are dealing with on the farm along with understanding their lifecycle is key to developing an effective fly management plan.

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Prevention and management of flies

Fly management is important to help minimize potentially yield-reducing behaviors in cattle. Cleanliness and sanitation is the most important step in a fly management plan.

You will likely need to implement several of these strategies in your fly management plan, but successful fly management must include effective sanitation.

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Author: Claire LaCanne, Extension educator, ag production systems

Reviewers: Bradley Heins, Extension dairy management specialist and Joe Armstrong, Extension educator, cattle production systems

Reviewed in 2021

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