Calf hutches can be a major source of adult stable and house flies on dairy farms. Stable flies take blood meals and slow calf growth whereas house flies spread bacteria with their sponging-type mouthparts. While manure is one of the primary breeding sites for flies, populations of these nuisance pests can also thrive in calf bedding. To reduce flies in and around calf hutches, consider these four bedding management tips:
1. Select the proper bedding
Bedding type is a key consideration in fly control. Ensuring that a calf’s bedding is dry helps to decrease the amount of flies laying eggs in the bedding. While straw is a favorable bedding for the winter months, sawdust or wood shavings are the ideal bedding choices for the warm, summer months.
2. Minimize feed and water spillage
A prime hot spot for flies to develop is beneath feed and water buckets. When feed and water spills from these buckets, it creates the optimal conditions for flies to develop. To prevent spillage and reduce fly populations in hutches, use feed pails and buckets that are large enough to prevent spilling.
3. Clean hutches frequently
Regardless of the preferred type of bedding material, ensuring that there is adequate, dry bedding helps reduce fly populations. To get a good idea of how wet the bedding is, use the knee test to determine if the bedding needs to be replaced. Enter the calf’s hutch and drop to one or both knees. If your knees are damp or wet, the bedding needs to be replaced. In addition to replacing wet bedding, cleaning calf hutches weekly will also aid in reducing fly populations.
4. Use a feed-through fly control
Even when you are keeping the environment around your calves as clean and dry as possible, fly populations can still be a nuisance. For the most complete control of flies in and around calf hutches, an integrated pest management (IPM) program should be complemented with the use of a feed-through larvicide such as ClariFly® Larvicide. ClariFly® Larvicide is approved for all stages of life from calves through lactating cows. ClariFly® Add-Pack helps reduce fly populations in calf environments, giving them the protection and comfort they need from the very start.