Common Fly Diseases and Health Problems in Sheep & Goats

For farms that handle livestock such as sheep and goats, it’s essential to be proactive in utilizing a proven fly control program. House and stable flies each come with their own set of health risks. These risks can threaten the health of your animals, employees, and bottom line. Reading about the following risks may feel overwhelming, but you can rest assured knowing there are a variety of simple methods that will better protect sheep and goats from flies.

House Flies

While their presence may be less felt than that of stable flies, house flies pose more serious health risks to sheep and goats on your operation. Serving as vectors for a variety of pathogens and contaminants, house flies have been implicated in the transmission of more than 65 disease organisms with populations that can burst out of control in a short period of time. Some of the most common diseases include:

  • Mastitis: An inflammation of the mammary gland. Most cases result in premature culling, increased treatment costs, and reduced animal performance. Severe cases can result in death of an ewe.

  • Salmonellosis: This infectious bacterial disease occurs most commonly during winter and spring seasons. Salmonellosis may occur in sheep and goat of any age, sex or breed. Symptoms include diarrhea and abortions in pregnant ewes.

  • Pinkeye: This infection of the eye is caused by bacteria that targets the conjunctiva and cornea of a sheep or goat. Pinkeye causes pain and stress that can cause weight loss. Corneal scarring or blindness often results in reduced value of affected sheep and goat.

  • Tuberculosis: Lesions caused by Mycobacterium bovis in the lungs and lymph nodes of sheep and goats are similar to those seen in cattle, and the organism may sometimes disseminate to other organs.

  • Botulism: A disease caused by the toxin produced by the bacterium, Clostridium botulinum, Botulism is defined as a progressive muscle weakness. This deadly disease can affect sheep and goat of any age, and common symptoms include weakened appearance and decreased or impaired mobility. Botulism is fatal in most cases.

Stable Flies

The stable fly has one of the most painful bites of any bloodsucking insect and feeds mainly on the legs and flanks of sheep and goats. When populations reach 50 to 60 flies per animal, you can see a dramatic reduction in performance in sheep and goats. Some of the most common health effects include:

  • Weight loss: Irritation by the stable fly biting causes livestock to consume less feed, to grow at a slower rate, and to convert less feed into body mass.

  • Increased Stress: Stable fly irritation can contribute to increased “stress” in livestock and can cause reduced feed intake during summer months, reducing performance.

  • Livestock bunching: When infested by stable flies, livestock will bunch – an indication that performance/cost of gain is being affected to the point of profit loss.

The Solution

Preventing these diseases and health problems begins with proper sanitation, which should include manure management along with routine shearing, clipping, and cleaning of your sheep and goats. Maintaining a dry and clean living space for your animals will also help prevent emergence.

The next step is to establish a comprehensive integrated pest management (IPM) program built around ClariFly® Larvicide. When fed according to label instructions, ClariFly® Larvicide is over 94% effective in controlling flies in the treated manure of sheep and goats at an average cost of only a few pennies per day. ClariFly® Larvicide Livestock Premix 0.67% is immediately available on a custom blended basis for use in sheep and goats when you obtain the supplemental label from an authorized distributor.

Learn more about how ClariFly® Larvicide can help protect your sheep and goats from harmful flies in our Sheep & Goat Brochure.