May 18, 2022 6 min read
Are you sick of trying to keep flies out of your barn? Effective barn fly control practices get straight to the source of the problem and prevent flies from reproducing. While you can’t change some things about your local environment, you can improve your barn’s fly problem by following these useful stable management tips.
There are many benefits to mowing your pastures and keeping the grass short, such as promoting even grazing and reducing the risk of dew poisoning. One big benefit that isn’t often discussed is mowing as a method of fly control for horses.
Many insects prefer the shade that tall grass provides, including mosquitoes, fleas, ticks, ants, and chiggers. These protected, shady spots allow insects to rest and hide from birds. Blood-sucking insects, like ticks, also use tall grass to more easily reach their prey. As your horse walks through tall grass, a tickcould easily jump from the grass to your horse and latch on. Another blood-sucking pest, mosquitoes, also use the resting places provided by tall grass to reproduce.
Mow your pastures regularly and try to keep the grass height to between 2 and 4 inches to promote pasture health and as a method of barn fly control.
Another benefit of keeping pastures well-maintained is cutting down on gnats. Particularly, fungus gnats, who prefer overwatered, fungi-ridden plants where they eat organic mulch, grass clippings, and compost. Keeping your grass short and mowing regularly will cut down on the amount of grass clippings that can build up on top of your pasture after mowing. Plus, mowing can help to break up other organic compost, like manure, which will help it to decompose faster.
How often do you lose tack and equipment like bell boots, fly masks, boots, and horseshoes in your pastures? Tall grass can easily hide these lost items, where they will sit and collect rain water. Mosquitoes can then breed in the water that collects inside the ears of a fly mask or in the cupped interior of a bell boot.
Bonus: Tall grass also attracts rodents and their predators, like snakes. In many parts of the southern United States, a snake bite can mean certain death for a horse. By keeping your pasture mowed, you can cut down on these harmful pests, too!
Stagnant water is an excellent breeding environment for mosquitos, gnats, and midges. If you’re unable to completely empty sources of stagnant water, dump it on a regular basis. The more often, the better.
Wash stalls and wash racks are some of the worst offenders when it comes to stagnant water. Many don’t drain all the way, which will leave small puddles of water on your barn fly, just waiting for a mosquito to come by. A SqueeGee Wash Stall Broom can help you remove water from your barn quickly and efficiently.
Unfortunately, it’s not just stagnant water that equestrians need to worry about. Black flies reproduce almost exclusively in running water. Plus, most of these species of black flies cannot tolerate organic pollution, so keeping your running streams and rivers clean will not help cut down on this nasty pest.
Don’t lose hope– you can cut down on other fly populations, like horse flies and house flies, by keeping your barn and pastures free of mud or excess moisture. For example, house flies will breed in stagnant water or rotting garbage, so keep on drying areas of stagnant water to foil their efforts. Horse flies tend to lay their eggs in a variety of moist environments, like creeks, swamps, and the shores of your pond. By keeping the weeds around these areas mowed, natural predators, like fish and bats, can hunt these flies more effectively and reduce the local population.
At the end of the day, barn owners can only do their very best at keeping their stables as dry as possible. While it’s not always successful, keeping footing and pastures as dry as possible can go a long way as a method of fly control for horses.
Dealing with manure is a pain for horse owners everywhere. Between mucking out your horse’s stall everyday and figuring out how to get rid of it, manure is a messy subject– both literally and figuratively. Manure storage is a difficult topic for farm owners who may not have many good options.
Keeping a manure pile too close to the barn or pastures can greatly contribute to your fly population. The decomposing organic waste is not only a breeding ground for horse flies, it also serves as an excellent source of nutrition for the flying pests. By storing your farm’s manure far away from the barn, you’re encouraging flies to move away and leave your horses alone.
Using a muck cart that’s easy to move and lightweight will make it more convenient for you to remove manure from your barn on a regular basis. For example, Jacks Muck Cart has large pneumatic tires that allow the cart to maneuver over almost any terrain, inside or outside, and its durable construction can hold up to 350 pounds.
If picking manure out of your pastures isn’t an option, dragging pastures or spreading manure is a good alternative. Flies target fresh manure piles in order to lay eggs and feed. When you drag your pasture, you’re breaking up these piles and exposing the interior to the sun, which will kill the fly eggs and other parasites. Breaking up manure piles also speeds along the decomposition process. The faster these piles decompose, the fewer breeding grounds flies will have.
Plus, as an added benefit, dragging pastures adds nutrients from the manure back into the soil and helps to fertilize pastures.
A dirty stall is like a miniature manure pile. Fresh manure and urine-soaked shavings offer great sources of food for flies. They may even lay their eggs in your horse’s stall! Make cleaning stalls a minimum of once a day a priority. A clean, dry stall holds nothing of interest to flies. But if a dirty stall sits for too long, you’re only attracting more flies into your horse’s space.
If you have a lot of mosquitoes or midges in your barn, you can also hang a barn-safe fan on the front of your horse’s stall. The extra airflow will make it difficult for these flying insects to get around. Plus, your horse will appreciate the extra breeze and ventilation on hot summer days.
Beyond the basics of mucking out your horse’s stall often and hanging fans, you can go above and beyond by doing things like hanging fly traps, using perimeter sprays, and ensuring proper ventilation. Perimeter sprays are like fly spray, but for your barn. This method of fly control for horses works by making resting spots, like your barn walls, less appealing to flies.
Some fly sprays are designed for use on both animals and inorganic surfaces. For example, Ultrashield Ex kills and repels biting and nuisance flies, mosquitoes, ticks and gnats when it’s sprayed onto horses, dogs, and your barn premises.
Consider using a stall deodorizer to absorb moisture from your horse’s stall more quickly. For example, Sweet PDZ Horse Stall Refresher Granules absorb ammonia as it dries out your horse’s stall.
A smelly trash can and leftover food will stink up your barn and is unhygienic, just like it would be in your home. Treat your barn like your house. Flies love nothing more than to make themselves at home in your trash can or grain bin. By tightly covering any trash cans or sources of food in the barn, you’re removing horse fly attractants and protecting your horse’s health.
Using a grain protector to prevent rips and tears in your grain bags can prevent flies from getting into your grain before you’ve even had a chance to feed it. The Tough-1 Grain Protector is made from a heavy duty, water repellent nylon blend that is sure to protect your horse feed from flies before it’s even out of the bag.
Spilling some grain while making dinner or breakfast for your horses is nearly inevitable. Clean up all spills quickly before your grain becomes food for something other than your horse– flies. Go the extra mile and remove clutter, like old buckets or stable supplies, from your barn. This barn fly control practice decreases available nesting sites for insects and rodents.
Summer will be here before you know it. As we head into the final days of spring, prepare your barn for peak fly season with these tips on fly control for horses. If you’re missing essential equipment you need to keep flies out of your barn, head to Breeches.com. Our selection of stable supplies includes everything from pitchforks to stall deodorizer to fly spray. To learn more fly control tips, check out this blog.
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