Monday, July 4, 2011
The Fourth and the Flies
Wishing everyone a horsey Fourth of July and hoping that no critters get freaked out by fireworks this year. We are careful to make sure our horses are in the pasture with the best fencing and our dogs are locked in the garage before we leave for Staunton's fireworks display. Neither horses nor dogs appreciate either!
I have been doing informal research on fly control this spring since they are on my mind and my body (and my horses' bodies) in pesky numbers. After taking polls and getting feedback from Facebook friends and fellow bloggers, I've concluded that it takes an arsenal to keep flies under control, and even then we 'humans' are losing the battle. The problem is made worse because you and your barn may be battling flies, but if a neighbor is not, then it's tough to decrease the numbers. I use several methods that work for me, and after 'researching' will try a few more. But my neighbor has heifers on his fields all winter, and the manure is never cleaned up. Now he has horses that belong to a renter (who I have never seen attend to the horses)on a back pasture. There is no fly control at all. When I ride past, the flies cover the horses' faces and backs. No masks, no sprays, no manure picked up.
But back to fly control. What works best for my two horses is bringing them inside during the hottest part of the day. Like Terri, I use fans to keep flies out of the barn. My husband mounted two huge dairy fans that hang from the ceiling. Turn on those suckers and the horses stay cool and bug free even in our hot, humid weather. However, after about five hours, Relish has had enough of his stall. He starts bellowing at anyone who will listen. Farnum fly masks--which I have found to be the most durable-- go on in the afternoon for turnout unless I know I can't take them off at night. Anal, I know, but I see too many horses who wear their masks 24/7 for weeks at a time. Terri mentioned Equissential Fly Masks, which I have not tried.
I use Endure rollon for riding--only putting it on Relish's face. If I ride early enough (before 8:00 am) the flies aren't too bad. A facebook friend recommended Quiet Ride Face Masks, and after going to the website www.cashelcompany.com, I'm eager to try one to reduce the amount of fly product I use on Relish.
Skin so Soft (find an Avon lady) was the clear winner for spot treatment. Linda recommended Clear Swat (around tender areas or wounds) and Laura recommended Bite Free by Farnum (which she warned was expensive); Tri-Tech 14 and Bronco were also products that people endorsed. Like Terri, I also use Equispot, which is dotted on like the flea/tick dog product. It's supposed to work for two weeks, but seems to lose it's effectiveness after the first two week period I use it. Perhaps the flies get immune to it or it could be they are more brazen later in the season. However, it definitely helped to control ticks when my horses were turned out in the neighbor's field, which doesn't get mowed often.
For those who get tired of sprays, Francesca and Terri both recommended feeding garlic granules, which is growing in popularity. (Terri mentioned her barn now smells like a "cheap Italian restaurant" a description I loved!) Fly/yellow jacket traps work well--but put them out early in the spring. Also set them away from the barn--you want to attract pests to the traps, not invite them inside. Lastly, several people mentioned fly predators, which attack fly larva in the manure. Because I have two horses and compost my manure, I don't have enough of a problem to warrant predators, but I would love to set a bunch lose at my neighbors!
Let us know your favorite product for controling and killing flies so we can all enjoy riding pest-free. Also don't forget the GREAT SUMMER BOOK GIVEAWAY! Lots of terrific books for lazy-day reading for you (and your kids) will be given away July through August. Tell your friends! Scroll down to Jami's blog, which kicks off the contest.