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Fly Problems Around Poultry, Livestock and Horse Farms

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wet ground in poultry houseHurricanes & similar storms can leave behind some additional problems for livestock and poultry producers by damaging poultry and hog houses, horse barns and other livestock structures. The first concern, of course, will be to care for the animals and repair damage as soon as possible. However, fly numbers are likely to rise dramatically around poultry houses and other dry waste systems such as horse barns and cattle lots in the wake of a hurricane. Confinement hog houses and some layer operations with liquid waste handling systems should not experience severe fly outbreaks unless they are unable to flush wastes into the lagoons for a week or more. Poultry houses (broilers, breeders, turkeys) that have lost any portion of their roof are particularly vulnerable. Wind blown rain will have wet large areas of litter and/or manure even if a building's roof stayed on, especially where side curtains or end doors have been damaged by the storm. Rain soaked feed spills from destroyed feed bins are another concern, as are storm related disruptions of mortality disposal. The equation is pretty simple:

ORGANIC MATTER + MOISTURE+ WARM WEATHER + 7 to 10 DAYS = FLIES

Reducing the likelihood of a storm-related fly outbreak on the farm is problematic at best -- there are likely to be more pressing issues. Nevertheless, here are some guidelines that may help: 
  1. Remove and dispose of wet litter/manure/feed/etc. as soon as possible. Obviously, this will not be practical or even possible in many cases. Wet litter/bedding can be replaced with fresh shavings/straw where removal is possible. Dispose of wet material by land application or by composting if conditions allow either method. Additional dry material (shavings or chopped straw) may be required to make a drier mixture for successful composting.  
  2. For small areas, mix wet litter/bedding with hydrated lime to absorb excess moisture. Top dress with several inches of fresh shavings, straw or other bedding material. For large areas, wet litter/manure/bedding can be mixed with equal or greater amounts of fresh bedding/litter.>
  3. Increase airflow as much as possible over wet areas to evaporate excess moisture. Continuous, high volume air flow will be most effective. flies on screening
  4. Be prepared to apply insecticides to manage fly outbreaks. Permethrin and RaVap® will be most effective as surface sprays on interior building walls. Use a pyrethroid insecticide containing cyfluthrin, lambda cyhalothrin, or cyfluthrin on interior surfaces when animals and birds can be removed, and for exterior treatments. Do not treat interior walls while buildings are occupied unless the product label allows it. These chemicals will provide good fly control for a minimum of 10-14 days. Apply spot treatments to eliminate concentrations of maggots where there are isolated areas of wet material. Use broadcast treatments only when most or all of the manure, litter or bedding area has been saturated. RaVap®, Rabon® or dimethoate are effective spot treatment insectidides for maggot control.  Space sprays (fogs) with pyrethins, PBO-synergized permethrin, or other approved insecticides can be used effectively for rapid knockdown of adult flies. 
  5. For waste stockpiles:
    • be sure that drainage carries standing water away 
    • cover with black plastic to aid solar heating and shed rainfall. Finally, here's a caution about land application of wastes as a method of disposal.  Be careful about where the material is spread. Avoid land application within a mile or two of residences if at all possible. Understand that wet litter and manure will likely contain a large number of fly larvae and pupae.  It's true that only a small percentage will survive and successfully emerge as adult flies, but those survivors can create a fly nuisance even when the waste is thoroughly incorporated. Application and incorporation will destroy all but 1% to 5% of the fly larvae and pupae, but even this small percentage can produce thousands of flies if the manure/litter/bedding is heavily infested.


Updated - 10/10/16 - Wes Watson


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