Kevin is a third generation livestock farmer with a passion for sustainable farm management, holistic practices, and multiple enterprises.
Pound for pound bats are some of the most voracious eaters on the planet. Bats are reported to be able to eat their own body weight in insects every night, and a brown bat can eat up to five hundred insects in a single hour. So how do we employ these workaholics on our farm or homestead? The most common way is to build a bathhouse and plans can be found all over the internet. Selecting a location on your farm or homestead to place these houses is crucial. Bats like to live close to water and a farm pond will do just fine. It’s also important to give the house six hours of sunlight and be placed about twenty five feet from tree lines. Most advocates of raising bats say to mount the home on a barn or pole ten or more feet off the ground. This single cure for cattle fly problems may be the only one you need, but if you’re like me you'd rather be sure and have a plan B.
Bat house plans
Manure Removal or Displacement
It’s no secret to cattlemen that flies love manure. Flies lay eggs in manure and can reproduce fast. So removing this natural attraction to flies is a good way to control their population. Some farmers and homesteaders use a drag to break up the manure eliminating large piles for flies to lay eggs in. This is the answer to how to control flies by most cattlemen. Although this is a beneficial, there are better ways to remove the problem. I prefer a more natural approach. Dung beetles in force can move a manure pile in a few hours and take it deep in the ground where it is better served to microbes who deliver this rich nutrition to plants. It’s a win/win; the grazer gets rid of the flies and his pasture is improved. In order to implement this system one must not use pesticides and wormers that kill dung beetles and soil microbes. It’s a catch 22, the flies increase the need for wormers while the wormers decrease the natural defense against the flies. By starting a grazing system that nullifies the need for wormers the grazer or homesteader can gradually build up the population of beetles and eliminate flies.
As eluded to previously, rotational grazing is a great way to reduce the fly population. As cattle are rotated to the next pasture a fly trap can be placed at the exits. Flies are trapped and can be dramatically reduced by this method. Fly traps employed with rotational grazing can diminish fly populations by up to 50%.
Barn swallows, chicken, turkeys and ducks also eat flies. Following your cattle in rotation, chickens, ducks, and turkeys can add another source of revenue to your farm and increase fly prevention. but that’s not the only winged creature that can help out. Just like bats, barn swallows have big appetites. Building some bird houses around the pasture for these swallows is a great way to reduce the fly population.
Small farms, ranches, or homesteads can see dramatic results by implementing these four natural fly controls in their livestock. It ends the frustration felt by you and your livestock and increases the bottoms line with healthier, happier, and more productive animals. I hope you find great results, as I have on your farm or homestead and finally answer the question of how to control flies in cattle and other livestock.