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We have used a combination of fly control methods for 3 years and still have way too many flies. Our main concern is horn fly control! If we could greatly reduce the numbers of horn flies we would be happy campers. Here is our situation. We have a steady year round herd of 25 longhorns that roam freely across about 130 acres of grassy bermuda pastures in the summer and rye grass in the winter. Rarely do we need to supplement with hay. Once or twice a week we give them breeders cubes for extra protein. We do not have large herds of cattle next to them, only a few (maybe 12) cattle around 1/4 mile away down the road.
We have 13 horses also, but we control flies well in their barn areas by raking pastures and mucking barn areas, feeding Solitude IGR, fly predators, and Pyranha misting systems, supplemented by fly spraying, Horsepal and Epps fly traps, along with some stable fly traps and mosquito dunks in nearby wet areas. We also hang mosquito zappers near the horse barns. So our fly problem is largely with the cattle, and the horn flies bother the horses when they are grazing pastures next to the cattle. We allow the horses to run and graze outside their immediate barn and small pasture areas in a large pasture adjoining the cattle pastures. The horse pastures that go unraked are about 40 acres in size.
We have rainy years and dry years here in East Texas, and we have horn flies whether it is wet or dry. Our grassy pastures are just about impossible to rake effectively. The terrain is hilly, the grass grows lushly (we keep the horse areas shredded lower than cattle pastures, but still not really rakeable), and the rake just doesn't get down into the manure effectively. I tried this for one season and gave up. To break up the manure I would have to rake so deeply that it would tear up the grass and create a weed problem.
For fly control on the cattle, here's what we are already doing:
Cattle rubs with Co-Ral or Permethrin insecticide mixed with diesel. This does help some, but it hardly solves the problem and not all cattle use the rubs.
Licks with either IGR or Rabon. I can't tell that either do any good.whatsoever, and they are very pricey for the little good they do. Most cattle use the licks, but I can't guarantee that they all do or that they intake the required amount. But the licks are definitely consumed reguarly. The cattle love them.
An A-1 misting system that we use to mist them using water/permetrin mixes. We don't like to mist them any more than we have to, mainly because we are afraid it's hard on their eyes, etc., but we use it at least one a month, sometimes more. This washes off in the rain, of course. If we use fly predators again, we would have to be careful to limit where we mist to avoid killing the fly predators.
We also have a two HorsePal horse fly traps near their waterers. These definitely work and catch some horse flies that would otherwise be on the cattle. Cattle are large targets, however, and they still have horse flies--just not as many.
Twice a year we run them through through a cattle chute and pour Cylence or some other type of insecticide along their back, according to the label. This helps for a little while, and of course this too washes off in the rain. The horn flies return in a week or so.
I tried one year to put fly predators in all the pastures, but it didn't help much. I am sure I did not have nearly enough predators to treat pastured cattle that roam freely, however, and you can look up my history of purchases and see that in the years I tried to control flies on the cattle I probably was using the rates for cattle confined in small areas.
If I wanted to try achieving horn fly control with fly predators as my main line of defense, what would I have to do? We are talking about 130 acres of cattle pasture and 40 acres of horse pasture, all covered in thick bermuda grass in spring and summer and rye in the winter.
I'd really like to know if horn fly control is possible with predators.
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