Controlling Horn Flies for Successful Cattle Reproduction and Disease Management
Published on Mon, 03/06/2023 - 3:45pm
Controlling Horn Flies for Successful Cattle Reproduction and Disease Management.
Article courtesy of Central Life Sciences.
Horn flies are more threatening to herd profitability than you might realize. They are a nuisance that can impact cattle weight gain and profitability, affect cattle’s productivity, and hurt cattle reproduction by spreading infectious bacteria. The diseases that horn flies spread to cattle, including beef heifer mastitis, can be linked to lower conception rates. Studies have confirmed that cows with infections can take 25% longer to conceive.
In addition to lower conception rates, teat and udder infections cause scar tissue and severely limit milk production and impact calf weaning weights. Without maximizing the useful life of a cow, operations may have to invest in costly replacement heifers sooner than otherwise necessary. To better control fly populations and protect against cattle diseases, it’s essential to understand the horn fly life cycle and the signs and implications of diseases such as heifer mastitis.
The Horn Fly Life Cycle
Understanding effective horn fly control begins with understanding their life cycle. Female horn flies move from animal to animal, feeding on the blood vessels in the skin of the teat, causing irritation and spreading disease. Eventually, the female horn flies leave the animals to lay their eggs in fresh manure. One to two days later, the eggs hatch into larvae; then, the larvae pupate after three to five days. In untreated manure, pupae will molt into adults six to eight days later, becoming the next generation of biting horn flies.
The 30/30 Approach
Disrupting this life cycle is an essential component of controlling horn flies. By adding Altosid® IGR 30 days before fly emergence and continuing throughout the season until 30 days after the first frost, you can help prevent the spread of infectious diseases in cattle. By continuing to feed 30 days past the average first frost date in the fall, producers can reduce the total number of overwintering pupae, giving them a head start on the population for the following year.
The 30/30 approach helps account for the variability in weather patterns to maximize control of overwintering fly pupae. These overwintering flies will be the first to emerge once the weather warms, jumpstarting fly populations in the spring. If the spring warmup starts earlier than you anticipated, you could find yourself behind schedule right from the start of your fly control program. This ensures an ideal window of treatment with the products, protecting against an unpredictably early or late start to the spring or winter seasons. The 30/30 approach can significantly lower fly populations while increasing cattle comfort and profitability.
The Impact of Horn Flies
Found on the backs of cattle, horn flies are the most pervasive and costly external parasites of cattle in North America, taking up to 40 blood meals a day. Losses from horn flies cost the industry an estimated $1 billion each year due to the stress they inflict and diseases they spread to cattle.
Effects from horn flies on cattle include:
• Irritating cattle with their painful bites causing cattle stress and annoyance
• Burning excess energy to dislodge flies and cattle bunching, leading to interrupted grazing patterns
• Reducing weight gains and calf weaning weights
• Decreasing milk production
By establishing a horn fly control plan and incorporating a feed through product like Altosid® IGR, you will reduce this stress and promote both healthy weight gains among cattle and healthy profits.
The Impact of Mastitis
Mastitis in heifers can impact the operation in multiple ways, with decreased future milk production being the most significant concern. The first step in protecting your cattle against the damaging effects of beef heifer mastitis is educating yourself on the disease. Once you understand what it is, you can better implement proper practices and preventative measures to protect your herd. Infections not only impact current cattle productivity, but they can also impact long-term herd profitability. When beef heifers mature in areas with high fly populations, the occurrence of mastitis increases. Without a fly management program in place, beef heifer mastitis can spread quickly throughout a herd, leading to blind quarters, decreased weaning weights and a reduced bottom line.
This disease occurs in cattle when one or more teats become inflamed, leading to infection. The destruction of this tissue eventually results in blind quarters in the udder, a significant factor in reduced milk yields. Studies have shown that when mastitis and blind quarters occur, milk production is reduced by as much as 20%. Horn flies carrying mastitis-causing bacteria enter the teat orifice to move upward into the quarter, destroying milk-producing tissues. Studies show that milk production accounts for 60% variation in calf weaning weight, significantly affecting an operation’s profitability.
Breaking the Horn Fly Life Cycle
Implementing proper practices and preventative fly control strategies is key to protecting your herd and profit from horn flies. Altosid® IGR is a feed-through fly control solution that passes through the digestive system and works in cattle manure where horn flies lay their eggs, limiting future populations from emerging. The active ingredient in Altosid® IGR mimics naturally occurring insect biochemicals that are responsible for insect development. The most effective way to control fly populations is to interrupt their life cycle. And Altosid® IGR, from Central Life Sciences, does just that while also eliminating the expense, labor and stress on your cattle associated with other fly control methods.
Why Choose Altosid® IGR?
Altosid® IGR delivers the most effective, cost-efficient control of horn flies with:
• No extra work rounding up or handling cattle as with ear tags, back rubbers and sprays. The animals distribute the active ingredient for you.
• No withdrawal times required before culling or milking.
• No known instances of resistance in nearly 50 years of use – a common problem for other horn fly control options such as ear tags if not administered properly.
For maximum effectiveness, Altosid® IGR should be used as the foundation of an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program, including proper sanitation, maintaining physical structures, incorporating naturally occurring fly enemies and using chemical controls. Given the role flies play in cow health and conception, implementing proper practices and preventative fly control strategies is key to protecting your herd and profit from horn flies.
Altosid is a registered trademark of Wellmark International.