Large fly populations and costly health issues are expected unless farmers protect livestock before the weather really starts to warm up, say experts.
The cold spring has delayed flies from becoming a problem already this season. But fly populations are set to multiply rapidly as temperatures rise. Control now will make it easier for the rest of the summer.
Vet Maarten Boers, of the Livestock Partnership, says it is important to ‘nip flies in the bud’ to keep them under control for the rest of the season. “Now is the time to treat animals before the weather warms and the population explodes.”
Flies can cause serious diseases resulting in lost production and possible death. New Forest Eye caused by the bacterium Moraxella bovis is one of the major diseases transmitted by flies to cattle.
Mr Boers said: “Not only does it compromise animal welfare, but it also requires antibiotic treatment. With responsible antibiotic use something we should all be focusing on, we must prevent flies by using appropriate fly control early.”
Summer mastitis is spread by flies and can lead to animals being removed from production. Flies are also responsible for spreading the bacteria that causes warts, with consequences more severe than just cosmetic concerns.
Mr Boer added: “Many people think warts are only cosmetic, but if they are present on the teats a cow will become impossible to milk and may have to leave the herd prematurely.”
In sheep, flies can also cause devastating issues such as blowfly strike.
Zoetis vet Ally Anderson said: “If an infestation is missed, it can cause intense suffering and even death. All of these fly-related diseases can be prevented by good farm hygiene and fly control products.
“Each product has different ingredients, control periods and withdrawal times. It is important cattle and sheep producers discuss insect control options with their vet or animal health adviser to find the product most suited to their herd or flock.”