Welcome to Castlebrook Barns - Affordable Luxury

Summer Fly Control for Your Horse Barn

Flies are enemies that inevitably come with being a horse owner. Unfortunately, you will never be able to eliminate every single fly, but you can educate yourself on ways to keep them under control and manage the harm they can cause.

Flies can cause your horse more than discomfort. Flies spread such diseases as salmonella, equine infectious anemia, vesicular stomatitis, pigeon fever, as well as influenza. They can cause allergies, dermatitis and eye ailments (such as conjunctivitis). Constant stomping to shoo flies can damage horseshoes, and can cause arthritis, ringbone and other impact-related injuries.

Flies can even lead to weight loss, as their constant buzzing, landing, and biting interrupts a horse’s grazing time and prevents rest. Insect-crazed horses may also attempt to escape their relentless bombardment, which could result in injury.

Below we provide anti-fly management tips to help you reinforce your defenses, and we also highlight four weapons of mass fly destruction.

Time to wage war…

First Line of Defense

Use the following management tactics to help make your barn the least hospitable to flies.

Control Moisture: Puddles are breeding grounds for a variety of insects as they are drawn to wet areas where they breed and drink.  Eliminate standing water around the barn and make sure to keep stalls dry. Create good drainage around your barn, repair plumbing leaks and cover rain barrels.

Install Fans: For stalled horses, strategically place large fans in your barn. Blasts of air will keep flies at bay. For pastured horses, provide access to open, breezy areas where they have plenty of space to move.

Manage/Remove Manure: Flies love horse manure! Sanitation should be your first defense in controlling fly populations. The life cycle from egg to adult in suitable environments is approximately 14 days for the house fly and 28 days for the stable fly, and adult females can lay up to 150 eggs every few days. Stable and house flies breed in manure, organic matter and soiled bedding. Therefore, muck out your stalls daily and try to dump the manure far away from the barn. Ideally, you should have your manure removed off site once a week. If you cannot remove it completely, cover manure piles with a heavy tarp or treat on-site for later removal.

Secure Garbage: Be careful of human food and trash. Make sure to get a trash can with a secure lid and empty it regularly. Dispose of garbage appropriately (enclosed under airtight lids), and cover grains and other feeds securely.

Provide Dark Space: Provide shade (some fly species avoid dark areas) and turn off barn lights to avoid attracting flies and other insects.

Pasture Separately: If possible, do not pasture your horses next to cattle or other livestock. Cow manure, in particular, draws vicious horn and face flies.

Four Anti-Fly Weapons

While managing flies through behavioral changes will help a lot, you have other ammunition at your disposal.

Here are of four of the most effective fly-control weapons:

1. Topicals

Topicals include sprays, roll-ons, gels and shampoos. These work by making your horse less attractive to flies. These products work to “knock down” or deter flies. They are best used in conjunction with feed-throughs or fly parasites, which kill flies at the larval stage.

2. Barriers

Outer barriers for flies and other biting insects can include sheets, masks and boots. Lightweight mesh protects horses from withers to rump, and many also offer neck, chest, and belly protection. Fly masks protect critical facial areas while fly boots cover sensitive skin on lower legs.

These are best used on horses living in close proximity with cattle or other livestock that attract horn and face flies or horses boarded at a facility without a broad fly-control program.

3. Traps

There are many different types of traps on the market, but all use some variation of fly bait or attractant to lure flies onto sticky surface or into receptacle, where they die. Many horse owners prefer these because they can kill flies in specific areas without putting insecticides into the air and they help manage adult flies missed by other fly-control methods. 

4. Barn Spray Systems

A barn spray system is designed with tubing attached to misting nozzles that run throughout the facility. The tubing dispenses fine droplets of fast-acting natural insecticide (pyrethrum) into air from an on-site reservoir and kills flies, mosquitoes, and other insects on insecticide contact. Insecticide is mixed with water and is sprayed for about 35 to 45 seconds. On average, a system sprays about six times a day.

These systems prove extremely efficient and effective with minimal work once set up, as they automatically dispense at regular intervals. The chemicals kill flies quickly, so they do not survive long enough to develop or pass on immunities to the insecticide. Unfortunately, they are also known to kill beneficial insects, such as spiders.

Know Your Types of Flies

Since fly-control methods may vary depending on the species of fly attacking your horse, it is important to know what type of flies you are dealing with. Several hundred species of flies plague horses. Regardless of the fly species, annihilation of their breeding and feeding grounds is crucial.

Most flies are only on the horses 5 percent of the time, so insecticides can provide only temporary fly control. Houseflies are non-biting but extremely annoying to the horse as they loiter around the eyes.

The following six are among the most prevalent:

Stable fly: Stable flies and houseflies are the more common breeds of flies in and around horse barns, with the stable fly inflicting a painful bite to horses and humans. Both female and male stable flies are blood feeders and usually attack the horse below the knee, causing the horse to stomp his feet or kick out. After feeding, the stable fly moves to a fence, barn wall or other surface to digest its meal.

Housefly: With sponge-like mouths, houseflies feed on secretions, manure, and garbage, but they do not bite. Instead, they suck up secretions around wounds and horses’ eyes, nostrils and anus.

Face fly: Face flies are a type of agricultural pest that attack the faces of cattle and horses. They attack the face in order to feed on the mucus and watery secretions that are found around the eyes of their victims. The face flies use their abrasive spongy mouthparts to stimulate tears from around the eyes.

Horn fly: Half the size of housefly; these pests pierce the horse’s skin to suck blood. These flies prefer cattle but will attack nearby horses as well. Horn flies can fly up to 10 miles, but they then stay with the same animals for the rest of their lives.

Bot fly: These flies lay sticky eggs on the horses’ coats and on muzzle, jaw, lips, throat, and insides of their legs. Larvae hatch in a horse’s mouth and later migrate to and live in their stomach and intestines. The bot fly can cause poor health condition, and even death.

Gnat: Also known as “no-see-ums” they are size of pepper grain.  Their painful bites can cause sweet itch (persistent skin break-out that itches fiercely). They cause itchy, crusty sores that can result in the horse rubbing off patches of hair.  Gnats are most bothersome at dusk and dawn.

The Castlebrook Difference

Castlebrook’s barns have a warm, inviting look which adds to the beauty and value of your property. All Castlebrook barns, round pens and round pen covers and designed and manufactured on site at Castlebrook’s facility. That is why we can provide you almost limitless choice of sizes and styles. Castlebrook can manufacture a barn, round pen and cover to suit your exact needs.

Castlebrook never misses a ship date. We are so confident in our on-time guarantee that we are willing to guarantee it — in writing! Castlebrook understands how important it is for your project to go as smoothly as possible. This begins with your structure shipping on the date we’ve promised. Castlebrook knows of absolutely no other barn company offering this guarantee. Where other companies disappoint, Castlebrook guarantees to be on time, every time!

Please contact our professional team today at 1-800-52-BARNS. We gladly accommodate Saturday appointments!