5 Simple Ways to Triage Cattle from Flies

Dr. Erika Nagorske

14 July 2021

Now that fly season is well underway, it’s time to think about how to deal with cattle that are being affected by flies. It’s important to know how to triage cattle from flies so that they don’t cause undue stress on your animals. 

Let’s face it, flies are a nuisance to livestock. They cause all kinds of issues that can easily be avoided by following a few simple guidelines. 

  • Preventing pinkeye

    Pinkeye can be a major problem for cattle when they’re irritated by flies. Pinkeye pathogens can be spread by flies and cattle can cause injury to their eyes by swatting their tails at irritating flies. It’s highly contagious and could potentially affect your entire herd. Once an outbreak spreads, it’s difficult to contain and control.  Due to the pain and stress pinkeye can inflict on cattle, it can cause lower productivity, reduced body weight, reduced milk production, blindness and even death in severe cases.1 While vaccines are generally used to control pinkeye, it’s wise to be proactive about fly control before it becomes an issue. That’s why it’s a good idea to consider the options available for fly control such as traps and bait, sprays and potentially garlic. 

  • Spray the animal with topical solutions

    As flies start to irritate cattle, sprays can be used to help keep the issue under control. Sprays are typically applied using a low pressure sprayer or mist blower sprayer onto the animals.  For best results, they’ll need to be re-applied on a weekly basis. These products usually provide between 7-21 days of control.2

  • Use a premise spray for fly control

    Premise sprays are typically applied to places where flies rest, such as walls, ceilings and floors. One of the benefits of a premise spray is that they’re water-resistant and can deliver up to 90 days of fly control.  Utilizing a longer-lasting premise spray provides a more effective and less manually intensive method of controlling flies. Spraying every three months instead of every week definitely has its advantages.  Take caution though to ensure that you are protecting both animals and water sources when applying premise sprays. It’s also a good idea to rotate between two active ingredients to prevent resistance to the spray. 

  • Traps and baits

    Fly traps can be a simple way to eliminate some of the fly problems you may be facing. Whether you use fly paper or electronic fly zappers, just be sure to place traps around places that cattle pass through frequently. A good location is near your water supply.3 In general, traps are good for smaller groups of cattle but won’t cause an impact for larger herds. As well, traps do not eliminate fly breeding sites.  Baits can also be used to kill off unwanted flies. They should be used in conjunction with other fly control methods because they will not completely control fly populations. Place baits in areas where flies congregate such as doorways, windows, and outside the parameter of the pens. Just be sure that animals are not able to eat the bait. 

  • Adding garlic to feed

    Adding garlic powder to cattle feed is a natural method to try to control flies. When cattle eat the garlic, their breath and skin produce an odor that deters flies. Garlic is mainly used as a repellent and won’t kill flies or breeding sites. It’s an additional natural product that is safe and easy to apply to your fly control program. 

Stay proactive about Fly Control

When it comes to fly control, try to be proactive and not reactive. You’ll never get them all but there’s no reason not to think strategically about how to manage the situation the best you can. 

Contact the FBN® team today to order your fly control products - sprays, ear tags, baits, traps & feed additives like garlic.



The above is provided for information purposes only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of any condition. This information does not cover all possible variables, conditions, reactions, or risks relating to any topic, medication, or product and should not be considered complete. Certain products or medications may have risks and you should always consult your local veterinarian concerning the treatment of your animals.

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Dr. Erika Nagorske

14 July 2021