The farmer’s idyllic front porch wouldn’t be realistic without a few flies buzzing around, but flies in your barn and on your cows are downright destructive.
Take the common housefly (please!). With their feet and mouths, they can transmit infectious, disease-carrying germs. Face flies are regular dive bombers that feed on the secretions of lips, mouths and eyes of cows and can easily spread pink eye. Horn flies are capable of sucking blood from a cow 24 hours a day and have been known to take up to a pint of blood a day.
Cows plagued by flies are not happy cows; they’re cows working hard to get rid of flies. In fact, flies on your cows can limit weight gain and milk production. Every possible fly-induced scenario means less profit – it’s just a matter of how much less.
Insecticides may seem like the answer, but their effectiveness quickly wears off. At Reedy Fork, in addition to the cow’s tail, we use essential oils on the cows to repel insects. Years ago before Reedy Fork was organic, we had a company come in and spray for flies every three weeks. Interestingly, we have fewer flies today than we did then.
One reason for this is that organic cows spend more time in the pasture. So their waste matter (fertilizer, if you will) is spread out a bit more than for the cows that just wait in the barn for dinner. In other words, flies have less of a reason to hang out at in the Reedy Fork barn.
Another reason that flies aren’t as plentiful at Reedy Fork is that insects target and feed on weaker animals, not stronger ones. The stronger your cows, the fewer flies you see.
Image Credit – Borqj on Flickr