SPRING AND SUMMERTIME tend to bring on mixed feelings for horse owners. Longer days mean we have more time to spend in the saddle, but warmer temperatures signal the reemergence of some of our horses’ worst enemies – flies.
Between the manure, hay and water sitting in troughs, the barn is the perfect breeding ground for disease-carrying insects that will quickly become a nuisance if not properly controlled.
So what can you do about it?
KEEP IT CLEAN. Keeping the entire property organized and tidy does wonders for controlling pests.
Keep the manure pile as far from your horses’ pens, the barn and the arena as possible.Don’t let water in troughs become stagnant and eliminate any standing water that may have gone unnoticed in feeders or other areas. Take note of how quickly troughs get dirty and clean them on a regular basis. This will help prevent or lower a mosquito population as the days get warmer. To neutralize any harmful bacteria use food-grade safe Biosecurity Wash.
Cleaning out your feed room and hay storage area regularly are also good practices that will help cut down on insects. Rotting hay on the ground will attract them and improperly stored grain makes for a great source of food.
BRING IN THE SECURITY DETAIL. Flies and other bugs have a lot of natural predators. If a population of toads, frogs or bats are already frequenting the barn, see what you can do to keep them coming back. They will help cut down the flying insect population considerably.
If having a bunch of frogs hopping around your place every night doesn’t sound appealing, look into ordering “fly predators”. They are effective, fairly inexpensive, non-biting or stinging insects that neutralize flies; and they are so tiny you won’t even notice they’re there!
GIVE YOUR HORSE THE BEST LINES OF DEFENSE. After spraying a horse down with fly spray, the obvious go-to for most owners is a fly mask, but when purchasing one, don’t assume they are all created equal. Looking for something that will protect your horse and hold up to his or her pasture mates for more than a week? With ripstop fabric, rub guard protection and UV-coated mesh, The Guardsman Fly Mask will be able to hold up to your horse’s pasture buddies and the elements.
If you feel they need added protection, many pieces of additional gear are out there. Neck covers and fly sheets provide full-body coverage and fly boots are available to defend your equine partner against painful bites below the hocks.
And if that’s not enough, keep barn lights off while your horse is stalled or add a shelter to your horse’s pen or pasture. We can’t guarantee they’ll use it, but flies tend avoid darker areas.
How do you keep your herd protected from flies?