How insect control helps livestock producers

Ticks and mosquitoes are typical warm-weather nuisances for the average person, but livestock producers and other animal caretakers have a whole other host of insect pests to worry about. Don’t even get us started on the variety of flies alone there are: stable flies, horn flies, house flies, horse flies, deer flies, face flies, not to mention gnats and lice.

Insects can be carriers of viral, bacterial and parasitic livestock diseases, like pink eye and anaplasmosis, and can also impact the productivity and growth of the herd by weakening animals. For example, according to Texas A&M, cows plagued with horn fly bites can lead to a 12% decrease in the average daily growth rate of nursing calves. Lactation in dairy cows can decrease by around 16%. Stable flies have been estimated to cost the U.S. cattle industry more than $2.4 billion every year due to reduced milk production, decreased weight gain in beef cattle, and lowered feed efficiency.

Shoo fly, don’t bother me

There are many ways livestock producers control insects in and around their facilities.

Spray and pour-on products can be used around the environment and on animals directly, much like the bug spray humans apply to their own bodies. Sprays can be misted over the herd, while pour-ons are applied down the back of the animals. These products need to be reapplied every week or two.

Back rubbers and dust bags are products that sit in high-traffic areas (like gates or feed and water areas) where, ideally, livestock are forced to rub against them as they pass by. According to Beef Magazine, these forms of insect control can reduce fly numbers by about 80–90% if placed in a way that forces livestock to use them.

Insecticidal pastes can be applied directly to the animal on areas of high fly congregation, to kill and repel the insects.

Fly traps, as the name implies, capture insects that get too near. Left in animal production operations, they can reduce fly population as well as other potentially harmful pests, like mosquitoes and spiders.

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