Summertime means elevated temperatures are contributing to issues that decrease comfort of livestock.
Hot weather also means insect populations are accelerating around the cattle yard. Now is the time to reduce external parasites to boost production efficiency and weight gain for young animals.
One form of parasite control is setting up and implementing an integrated pest management (IPM) fly control program. IPM is defined as an ecosystem-based strategy focused on long-term prevention of damage caused by pests.
The IPM system uses environmentally sound and effective ways to keep pests from harming your animals and damaging crops. The Dairy Calf and Heifer Association has published a set of gold standards, including basic guidelines and recommendations that are applicable not only to dairies but all livestock operations.
Here are some basic guidelines:
- Conduct regular site inspections. Identify the type of pests and determine infestation levels.
- Keep a log. Include an identification of the pest, the population size, recommendations for future prevention and complete information on the treatment action used. During the fly season, monitor fly populations and adjust control protocols as needed.
- Stay ahead of the problem. Start control activities well before flies become active and follow through with your control activities.
- Maintain a plan. Work with your veterinarian, Extension livestock specialist or industry representative resolutely to rid your area of flies. Stick to what is necessary.
Successful pest control is essentially a proactive rather than a reactive program. It starts with limiting environments conducive to flies.
Follow these precautions as a means of discouraging flies:
- Limit pests’ food supply by keeping feed, hay and bedding dry.
- Maintain control of larvae habitat by properly managing manure. The slightest change in temperature or liquidity levels can result in fewer surviving flies.
- Use fly products such as QuickBayt or Kunafin that are not harmful to livestock or people.
As you are aware, any integrated pest management control program uses a combination of techniques, such as biological control, habitat manipulation, modification of cultural practices and use of resistant varieties. Then, pesticides can be used as a last resort after monitoring indicates they are needed, based on established guidelines. Treatments are made with a specific goal of removing only the target organism: pests and parasites.
Remember to consult your veterinarian or animal expert for recommendations suitable for your operation.