With the arrival of warm weather, pesky flies and other organisms detrimental to horse health and comfort make their appearance in many areas. Veterinarians warn horse owners not to wait until it is 90 degrees outside with humidity to match to think about fly control. Early prevention is key to having fewer flies and other pests around horses and barns later in the summer.
Here are 5 tips to help horse owners prevent flies and other pests making life miserable for horses:
1. Harrow pastures and break up manure piles while being sure to muck out dry lots or pens. This might also mean bringing in some new sand for areas that have been saturated with manure and urine. Stalls and sheds should also be stripped of old bedding. Old manure, dirty bedding, and feces saturated soil will attract flies and insects once the temperature increases.
2. Remove, or eliminate potential fly and mosquito havens. This means anything that holds water after a rain like empty pails, grain pans, and unused water tanks. Filling in dips in pens will also help reduce places for standing water; simply raking these spots as the water dries will also help dry the area out.
3. Feed garlic, or add apple cider vinegar to your horse’s water or grain. Feeding garlic helps deter biting insects. Cider vinegar is also believed to do the same thing when added to your horse’s drinking water or grain. It can also be added to rinse water when bathing your horse, which will act as an external repellent.
4. Use fly predators. These little insects are very helpful in reducing the number of flies on your property. The key is to use them correctly and to have your first order shipped early enough in the season. Once flies have begun to hatch out, it’s more difficult to break their reproductive cycle.
5. Have barrier/repellent products stocked and ready to use before you need them. Make sure that you have fly masks and sheets ready to go before you see your first flies. When using sheets and masks from last year check for tears and rips and either mend these spots, or replace them altogether. Have at least one-month’s supply of fly spray for both your horses and for your barn on hand.