Stop the Buzz: 4 Methods of Fly Control for Cattle

Management : Cow & Calf

Nutrition : Minerals

Elizabeth Backes-Belew, Ph.D.

Nutritionist, Beef Technical Solutions

Early season fly control for cattle goes a long way in keeping populations under control all season long.
Consider these four methods as you turn cattle out onto spring pasture:
  Uses How it works Application and upkeep Considerations
Purina® Wind and Rain® Mineral formulas with Altosid® IGR deliver mineral nutrition and horn fly control to range cattle in a convenient, effective way .1
As cattle consume mineral with insect growth regulator (IGR), it passes through the animal and into manure, where horn flies lay their eggs. The IGR prevents pupae from developing into biting adult flies. For best results, feed 30 days before the last frost of spring through 30 days after the first frost in the fall.
Ensure cattle are consuming mineral at target levels. Appropriate mineral intake ensures cattle get the targeted level of Altosid®, which helps them receive full horn fly control.
Insecticide-impregnated ear tags
Ideal for implementation if cattle already need to be processed. Tags release small amounts of insecticide over time to control flies. Tags must be replaced when insecticide is depleted, usually 2–4 months after application. Tags should be removed at the end of fly season. Follow manufacturer recommendations and rotate tag insecticides as needed to mitigate fly resistance.
Pour-ons and on-animal sprays
Great option for immediate fly relief. Liquid substance usually applied directly on an animal’s backline. Chemical is absorbed and circulates through the animal’s system.
Controls flies for up to 30 days before requiring another application. Requires several applications to provide control all season long. Works best as a supplemental fly control method during spikes in fly numbers.
Dust bags, backrubs and oilers
Most effective in a forced-use situation. Animals must use frequently. Powder or liquid substance applied with hand shakers or self-treatment dust bags. Requires frequent device checks to keep insecticide stocked. Free-choice implementation can take 2–3 weeks for cattle to adopt and might not provide equal protection throughout the herd, leaving some cattle more vulnerable.
Note: Other methods like baits, area and residual sprays are difficult to use in range settings and are best used in barns or a confinement setting.

Why Purina® Wind and Rain® Fly Control mineral with Altosid® IGR?

 Cattle treated with Altosid® IGR showed a 15.8% increase in average daily gain versus cattle left untreated.2
  • It’s available in tub or loose form, so you can feed mineral as usual.
  • No animal handling or behavior changes required.
  • There’s no insect resistance to Altosid® IGR.
  • Dung beetles are not affected by Altosid® IGR.

The best way to beat the buzz? 

Develop a multi-pronged fly control approach to fit your operation. Use a feed-through option like Purina® Wind and Rain® Fly Control mineral in tandem with other fly control methods for season-long protection.

Not sure if fly control for cattle is really worth it? Calculate how much horn flies drain from your herd.
1 Altosid® is a trademark of Wellmark International.
2 Altosid® IGR Effectively Controls Horn Fly Populations, Promotes Greater Weight Gain in Stocker Cattle Study. Conducted by Central Life Sciences. Summer 2011. Study located in northeast Oklahoma.