If you’ve been around cattle, you’re familiar with horn flies. These pests may be small, but they do an incredible amount of damage. Ranches in Florida alone suffer a loss estimated at $36 million annually due to the horn fly. Up to $60 million annually is spent on insecticidal control in the United States to combat the horn fly and other insects. In today’s article, we’ll bring you some advice given by the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF IFAS) to help keep your farm safe. For more on pest control tips for your herd, visit our blog page

What damage do they do?
Horn flies lay their eggs in cow manure. Adult flies feed off cattle blood, with each fly feeding around 20 times per day. While that may not sound like a lot, it can cause substantial damage when there’s a large population of flies. The flies can transport bacteria and disease, but also cause a noticeable reduction in weight gain. Cows spend energy tossing their heads and flicking their tails to get rid of flies, which decreases growth and milk production.

How do ranchers look out for horn flies?
The economic threshold for horn flies is 200 flies per cow for beef cows, meaning when the fly population gets to this point, the cost of treatment is less than the benefits to the cows in health and production level. To watch for flies, check your cow’s behavior. Choose 10 cows as subjects, and estimate the number of flies on one side of the cow based on density and appearance. For more information on beef cattle, visit our website

What are some preventative measures to take?
Some good methods of prevention involve insecticides or treatments where the cow is forced to walk through a backrubber or dust bag. Horn flies in certain areas are immune to certain treatments, so check with local agencies to see what’s recommended for you. 

At Dark Hammock Legacy Ranch, we strive to give our cattle the best health possible, knowing we pass on those benefits to our consumers. Visit our website to learn more about our history.