How do I get the fly situation under control?
You must attack all stages of the fly life cycle!
Flies are a major pain in the butt - and can be really irritating to have around. Luckily, there are many things to do around the farm and barn that can be helpful. First we need to understand how flies live and breed and what gets their motor running. Although there are a zillion types of flies, for the sake of being simple we will lump them all together into the blood sucking stable fly variety. These are the most annoying to horses, and actually feed on blood.
Zebra prints are said to be less attractive to flies. And definitely more fashionable.
First, try and remove the source - soft and moist decaying organic matter. AKA manure. This is where flies breed and their eggs mature. So - get rid of manure, get rid of flies. Yes, lots of us compost the manure (yeah!), and luckily this is OK. As long as the manure is removed from the areas around your horse, and allowed to compost and dry, you are fine. Flies like the wet stuff.
Now you can tackle the fly population from hatching. Fly predators are great for this. These teenie tiny wasps actually lay their eggs in fly pupae and the wasp babies eat the flies. Yum... You can get a pre-scheduled delivery of them to your barn, easy peasy!
Then you can attack the flies that may have hatched. (This is a marathon, not a sprint, so be persistent and patient.) Fly traps are very effective - and very stinky - so put them far from people and horses. (This will also lure them away from the barn!) You can also use fly baits, but as with all things, keep them away from kids and pets. Fly traps collect the flies in a lovely bag filled with stinky fly bait. Fly strips glue the flies down, but will also glue down birds (sad...)
You can also repel them from your barn with overhead fly spray systems or products that are applied directly to your horse, like sprays. I'm a huge fan of fly masks and fly sheets, also. Fly masks with nose coverings double as sun protection for pink nosed horses, and fly sheets offer some level of dirt repelling properties also. (I love things that do double duty!)
There is also a new breed of fly control product out there - the fatty acid based spray. These camoflauge your horse and confuse the flies, so they end up not being able to find your horse. Spiffy. Be sure to read the instructions! You can also make your own fly spray (mixed results for me and also I don't like to "cook").
Eco-Vet has a lovely offer for their fatty acid based spray - 10% off with PRO10 at Eco-Vet.com
In the barn, you can also use your fans as fly control - some more double duty! Flies have a hard time landing on your horse in the wind, and in the barn, just fake it.
How do you tackle flies??