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Controlling Flies

When you have livestock, you have flies, it's just a fact of life.  Keeping the flies under control is an important consideration.  Flies make life unpleasant for you as well as your livestock.

The following is what we do to control flies.  It works for us. 

1.  Keep it clean & dry -  This is the number one most important issue in fly control and will go far in controlling flies.  Don't give them a place to breed, and they can't reproduce.  In the summer, we sweep out the barn completely every day.  We leave no bedding for the flies to reproduce in.  The poops are added to the compost pile and the waste hay is spread along our long path to the barn.  Our chickens then patrol the path and catch any "bugs".

2.  You can "lime" your barn by sprinkling it on the floor.  Lime will keep down the flies by making an inhospitable breeding environment.

On lime... this is important.

There are two different kinds of lime.

  • Hydrated lime, slake lime, or "burn lime"-  This is pure white.  Hydrated lime is  very caustic, so the bag will have a warning on it.  This is the kind of lime you use for  white wash .  This lime will burn you and your livestock.  Do not use it on the floor.  Do not breath it.
  • Agricultural lime, "ag lime", "garden lime", "barn lime" or dolomite-  This lime is gray and can be used to spread on the floor of your barn.  This is safe for you and your livestock.  It will not burn.  We spread this lime on our barn floor because it provides an antibacterial quality, dries out and  "sweetens" the floor , and also Larry says it makes it easier to clean.

If you just ask for lime at your feed store, they will probably give you hydrated lime.  If you say it's for the barn floor they will still probably give you hydrated.  Please be safe, get the "Ag" lime for use in fly control.

3.  Fly parasites & natural predators- 

Fly Parasites: These are nature's original method of fly control (some companies call them parasites and some companies call them predators; they are the same thing). These tiny beneficial insects kill the fly larva before it can develop into a fly.  Please visit  Beneficial Fly Predators for more information. I buy my Fly Parasites from Spalding Laboratories at 1-888-562-4552 or I have the parasites sent automatically every month throughout the summer. This is a holistic method of fly control. You have to start early and use them every month. If you just get one shipment to "see if they work" you will see no change in the fly population.

Note: I stopped using Fly Parasite a couple years ago, and we don't really have a major fly issue. Maybe the parasites are established now?  Nowadays, we just concentrate on keeping the barn clean and use fly ribbons and Shoo-Fly spray.

Spiders: do a lot to keep down the fly population in a barn. Even though they may creep you out, remember that spiders are our friends, so don't go knocking down all the spider webs in your barn. You may not realize it, but the spiders are catching and eating a lot of those pesky flies.

Chickens: will eat flies (as well as occasionally mice). Our "heritage breed" chickens (Dominique) live right along side our goats with never a problem. These older types of chickens still posses a good hunting instinct. I am always amazed when I see our chicken leap to catch one of those big nasty horse flies right out of the air.

Muscovy Ducks: We heard these are great fly catchers. We acquired two duck to see how well they do their job.

Result of duck experiment- We tried the ducks and finally ended up giving them away to a new home, where they can live as pets. Why did we get rid of them? Because nothing we did would keep them from pooping in the goats water tank, and we will not stand for defecation in anyone's drinking water. We gave the ducks a big pond, a little pool, and run of the entire farm. The only rule we set was no pooping in the goats' water tank, and that rule eventually was broken (over and over again) and nothing we devised (covers, grids, etc.) would keep them from pooping into the tank.


4.  We use good old fashioned fly paper, or "fly ribbons".  We used to buy these in boxes of 100 from PBS livestock (1-800-321-0235), but I actually found them cheaper in four packs at Walmart.  One box of 100 lasted us all year.  We try to hang the ribbons where the goats won't pull them down. These work great. I change the tapes whenever they get full, or dry out. I have used those big jar or bag traps, but these smell horrible after a while, which makes visiting the barn very unpleasant.

5. We use a natural essential oil spray herbal fly/insect repellent called SHOO-FLY that I have developed to keep the flies off the goats. It is available for purchase on the Molly's Herbals web site.

6. You could use Diatomaceous Earth, it would kill fly larva. We don't use it, because with all the other things we use, we don't need it, AND it would also kill the fly parasites, which we don't want to happen. This stuff doesn't work once it gets wet and needs to be reapplied. Do not breath it in. For more information on Diatomaceous Earth, click here.

7.  Here at Fias Co Farm we do not like to use poisons.  We try to be as "organic" as possible, and I milk our goats and we drink the milk raw, so we are very concerned about what goes into the goats, because that goes into our milk.  Also, if you use the fly parasites, which I highly recommend, you must be careful about poisons because you don't want to kill off the "good guys".

We have in the past, when we first started out in goat keeping, before getting into Natural and Holistic health care, used to use a product called CyLence.  This contains a 4th generation pyrethriod (pyrethrum) called cyfluthrin.  It controls horn flies and face flies, as well as biting and sucking lice.  It is cleared for use in dairy cattle and has no milk or meat withdrawal.  You can get CyLence from PBS livestock (1-800-321-0235)

Apply CyLence by dripping it along the spine of our goats.  The dose we used was: 1 cc per 25 pounds.  We used to apply it the first of every month throughout the summer, but with the use of Fly Parasites, keeping the barn clean & dry, having spider & chickens, and using fly tapes find we don't need it at all.

So... this is what we do.  It works for us.  We have practically no flies.  Come on over and take a look if you want ;-)

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The information on this web site is provided as an examples of how we do things here at Fias Co Farm. It is supplied for general reference and educational purposes only. This information does not represent the management practices or thinking of other goat breeders and/or the veterinary community. We are not veterinarians or doctors, and the information on this site is not intended to replace professional veterinary and/or medical advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses without consulting your vet and/or doctor. We present the information and products on this site without guarantees, and we disclaim all liability in connection with the use of this information and/or products. The extra-label use of any medicine in a food producing animal is illegal without a prescription from a veterinarian.

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