Flies can be an irritant cows and a headache for producers

A common household pest for most of us can cause real headaches for ranchers, and it requires a little more than just a fly swatter.

On hot summer days cows go out and graze on the grass, and flies like to graze on the cattle.

“The primary effect is irritation. No different than it is for humans, ” said Dr. Kris Ringwall, director of the NDSU Research Extension Center in Dickinson.

The main irritators is the Face Fly, Horn Fly and Stable Fly.

The Face Fly can cause pink eye and spread it to the rest the livestock, and the stable fly, which is a biting fly, likes to lay on the lower region of the cow, and livestock will go into the water for long periods of time to avoid them.

“They can get foot rot or other foot issues, because they are trying to get away from the flies,” said Ringwall.

The horn fly likes to gather along the back and shoulders, and cows will bunch up together to shield themselves from them.

“When they are all bunched up they are not out grazing, and that is one of the issues, ” said Ringwall. 

Gerald Stokka, NDSU Extension Veterinarian, said a pest problem can cause cattle to lose weight and become an economic loss for  producers.

“It doesn’t”t lead to death. . . it can lead to reduce market value, or more time and money on treatment”.

Ringwall said bulls tend to be the most susceptible because of their short hair and smooth coats.

There are lots of different treatment options available for producers like feed additive insecticides or ear tags.

“The products are somewhat similar. Its a matter of what application you want to use, ” said Ringwall.

However,for cows the best pesticide is what evolution gave them.

“It’s why they have tails. . . and why they swish their tails a lot. It keeps the flys away, ” said Ringwall




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