March 7, 2021
The days are beginning to get a tiny bit longer, and the temperature is starting to get a little bit warmer, which gets my mind thinking about riding my horse and working outside more. This also means the time to start planning for managing flies is upon us.
I know it is still winter, but spring will be here before we know it. So, before it gets too warm, now is a fantastic time to come up with a plan to manage the fly population this summer. Coming up with a plan now can help control the flies for the entire summer, which can lead to a much more enjoyable summer for us, as well as our horses.
Why Is Fly Control Important?
Beside the fact that flies are annoying, they can also carry diseases. They are nasty little critters that can be relentless on our horses. Did you know that the common housefly can carry around 65 diseases? And not only do they carry diseases that can be transmitted to our horses, but they also can transmit disease to people too.
With a diet that is comprises of rotting flesh, feces, spoiled meat and trash, it’s no wonder they harbor germs and bacteria. Some of the diseases house flies carry around:
That’s just gross! Flies are disgusting, which is why it is important to plan now, before the flies get bad. With planning and carrying out that plan, you can effectively control the flies before they get out of control in just a few months. Here is how you can do it.
Feed Through Fly Control
Before the temperatures begin to climb is the time to start feeding a supplement to interrupt the life cycle of the fly. There are several products to choose from, and I have had great success with Simplifly. This product works because it has an insect growth inhibitor that goes to work in your horse’s manure. The growth inhibitor prevents the formation of the flies' exoskeleton, meaning when the fly molts, it dies. Don't worry, the product is safe. The larvicide isn’t activated while in the horse’s body. It is activated after the manure has made its way out and onto the ground.
I have been using Simplifly for years and I have noticed a drastic difference in the flies (or I should say lack of flies) on my property.
Keeping stalls clean, dry, and the manure picked up and far away from the barn are critical steps in managing the manure. Lets face it, manure happens. But after it happens, what you do with it really does matter.
The best way to manage it is to keep it picked up. This may mean cleaning stalls a minimum of twice a day during fly season. If you are able to do this, it really is a manageable project. Because you are cleaning more frequently, there is less to clean! You will notice a difference regarding how many flies congregate when there isn’t any manure around. It really is a beautiful thing.
But once you have gathered the manure, how do you dispose of it?
The most common solution is to have a manure pile. This is what we do. Well, we actually have to manure piles. One is where I dump what I collect, and then once a week my husband uses our tractor to relocate the collected waster to a far corner of our property. He then spreads it, and it turns into compost.
The biggest takeaway is where you store the manure – the further it is away from the barn the better. Yes, that means a further walk to dump, but the flies will congregate where the pile is. So keeping it far away from the barn is the best.
If you don’t have somewhere you can create a manure pile, you can have it hauled away. Many of my neighbors do this. Instead of collecting and dumping into a pile, they collect and dump the manure in a designated receptacle. Then, once a week, the trash man comes and hauls the manure away. Manure problem solved.
Eliminate The Moisture
This can be challenging, but it can be done. The first place to cut down on wet spots is in your horse's stall. Going back to what I said about keeping the stall free of manure, it’s also a good idea to remove the wet spots.
One way to keep the wetness down is to use a bedding product that helps absorb the moisture. My favorite bedding material is a pelleted wood bedding. This bedding is fantastic! The pellets expand with moisture, and then it is easy to remove the wet bedding, while the dry bedding easily falls through the manure fork. When the pellets are expanded, they make a very nice soft bedding for your horse.
After you have removed the wet bedding, you can sprinkle a powder, like PDZ or Zeolite over the bare spots, and it also helps to absorb wetness and eliminate odor and ammonia.
This is where it gets a little more challenging. Around the water tank, it always seems to stay wet. But, you can manage this area by keeping it easily drained and adding a little bit of gravel around the water tank. Also, be sure to keep standing water to a minimum if you can. This will help to keep flying pests away.
Remove Wasted Feed
If your horse is a sloppy eater, he can be contributing to the fly problem. Flies are attracted to food, and this isn’t just hamburgers and hot dogs. Nope, flies like grain and horse feed too. Keeping the spilled grain, or wasted feed picked up can help keep the flies away. And if you must feed your horse softened feeds, be prepared for lots of flies. One solution to this is to remove the feed bucket and rinse it out as soon as your horse has finished his morning (or evening) meal.
I have to do this with both of my horses. And while it is an extra step, it is worth it to keep the fly population low. If flies don’t have a food source, they will move on to easier meals! That’s my thinking anyways. And it seems to work pretty well. This is why I have multiple 20 QT feeding buckets for my horses. I like to plan ahead.
I also rake up all of the hay that has fallen from their hay nets. I don’t know why, but flies even seem to like hay that has fallen to the ground. It’s very annoying. But if you let the hay continue to build up on the ground, flies will congregate. So keep the hay picked up, and the ground free of debris to help keep the flies away.
There are soooo many different fly sprays available today. We equestrians are very lucky to have so many options when it comes to fly repellent. And I like to make good use of all of these fly sprays be switching them around.
Just like bacteria, flying pests can become resistant to different pesticides, or tolerant of the sprays. And by switching up which spray I use on my horses, I keep the flies guessing. I also like to add in my homemade fly sprays too. They don’t work as long as the commercially made sprays, but they are a good product to switch up things. I also use my homemade fly spray as a stall spray too!
I have tested many different fly sprays to find the best of the best, and some of my favorites are:
Other Fly Repellent Products
And along with fly sprays, there are other helpful products to keep the flies away. I like to take Farnam SWAT Fly Repellent Ointment and apply a little bit of it, like a lotion around the heels of my horses legs. I always see flies around my horses legs and I find that by applying a thin film of the SWAT ointment help to keep the flies away a little bit better than just the fly spray alone. I also use Farnam Endure Sweat Resistant Fly Spray – the roll on bottle around my horses ears, and on their lower legs with really good results.
Perimeter Fly Sprays
Last year I found something really incredible to add to my fly assault arsenal, a fly spray that I keep in my stalls, and it automatically sprays. This thing has been a game changer for keeping the flies out of the barn.
About the Author
You may know Lisa Goodwin is the Budget Equestrian. With over 35 years with horses, she has learned a lot about them, caring for them and how to save money as a horse owner. You can learn more about her, and her horses over on her blog budgetequestrian.com or her YouTube channel The Budget Equestrian with over 650 videos on DIY projects, product reviews and horse related videos show you how to make the most of the time that you have with your horse.