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Stress less

Implementing an effective fly control program is good for cattle and producers
Story and photos by: Allison Parker 3/25/2020


First Farmers Cooperative member Harold Maners of Decaturville understands the value of feeding Co-op minerals with fly control, which is why, as a part of his year-round program, he provides the supplemental nutrition beginning early April through November.
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When flies arrive on the farm, so does stress. Not only does the producer suffer as he or she wonders how much damage the flies will do to the herd, but, more importantly, the pesky insects create a stressful environment for cattle, which ultimately affects the bottom line.

As the cattle attempt to ward off the flies, their grazing is interrupted, and the results are often decreased weight gain and reduced milk production. A year-round fly control program built around Co-op

minerals containing feed-through larvacide can effectively reduce the impact of flies on a herd.

There are three major species of flies with potential to afflict cattle: house flies, horn flies, and face flies. Of these, horn flies are by far the most costly. They are often confused with face flies. The horn fly however, is a small, black insect about the size of a grain of rice that spend the majority of its life on the back, shoulders, and belly of its host.

Co-op Animal Health specialist urge farmers to act now to get ahead of horn fly populations. The first flies will begin to emerge when daily temperatures reach 65 degrees for a period of two weeks, and as the spring and summer progress, limiting numbers becomes more difficult and less effective.

Harold Maners, a cattle producer Decaturville, understands the value of these minerals as they do all they can to stay ahead of the flies. Harold utilizes a year-round fly control program for the 50 commercial Angus mama cows and calves that he manages on his multigenerational family farm.

“Harold has impressed me because he is interested in every aspect of total management of his cattle,” says Mark Bentley, Tennessee Farmers Cooperative livestock specialist. “He focuses on best management practices like rotational grazing layout, proper selection of forages, and an extensive fly control plan. He is truly devoted to having the best total package program for his cattle.”

Harold, a First Farmers Cooperative member, begins his fly control efforts in early April and provides Supreme Hi Mag Cattle Mineral with Fly Control (#96623) free choice for his cattle through May. In June, he switches to Supreme IGR Fly Control Cattle Mineral (#96622) and

continues using it into November.

Providing early spring to late fall access to the IGR mineral will produce optimum results, says Mark. The insect growth regulator (IGR) prevents horn fly eggs from developing into adults by passing through the animal’s digestive tract unaffected and into the manure where it interrupts the life cycle of the fly. The extended timeline ensures the IGR is available during every stage of the fly’s lifespan — from egg to adulthood.

Beginning in late May, Harold takes the extra step to have First Farmers Co-op’s livestock team work his cattle. While on the farm, the team gives the cattle all their vaccinations and applies fly control insecticide ear tags. They also add a pour-on dewormer, like Eprinex or Cydectin, to help prepare the cattle for the worst of the fly season in the summer and fall.

“You get the best control when you do like Mr. Harold does and use minerals as part of a total program,” says Mark. “There are lots of options for a total program that include pour-ons, sprays, back rubs, or fly tags. A total program really works best.”

During this entire process, Harold works closely with First Farmers livestock specialist Jeremy Jones to select the right mix of products for maximum benefit and to reduce the likelihood that the flies build resistance.

“Having the Co-op is so helpful for me because their people know what they’re talking about,” says Harold. “It’s convenient, and they do a good job with whatever you ask for. They have everything you need for the farm, and they have good people to work with.”

Co-op minerals with IGR are the cornerstone of Harold’s fly control program, but he says the addition of other control methods like insecticide ear tags and a pour-on enhances his coverage.

“You have to do everything possible to get rid of flies,” he says. “Flies will cost you pounds per day, and ultimately hurt your bottom line more than you ever realized.”

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