Summer is a favorite season to many people. But those of us who spend a lot of time in a barn know that along with the heat of the summer comes the dreaded flies.
Flies thrive in environments with lots of manure and garbage as a food source. Farms of any kind are the perfect homes for flies. There are many ways to keep the fly population down at your barn, and this post will go over a few of the ways to do so.
One of the most important steps in fly control is to keep the barn as clean as possible. This means cleaning up after your horse as well as yourself. Horse manure inside the barn should be mucked regularly and brought to an outdoor location. Having your manure pile located as far away from the barn is ideal as well as making sure it is not located near any entrances to your barn. The life cycle of the fly can be completed in as little as seven days so having your outdoor manure pile picked up or spread to dry at least twice a week would be necessary to break the breeding cycle. Also, having trash cans with tight lids located in the barn for human garbage is necessary as well. Busy days at the barn tend to lead to eating on the go and although leaving your trash next to the stall to clean up later is convenient, making sure that it is put in a sealed garbage can right away will help reduce flies.
Another way to lower the fly population is to set fly traps throughout the barn. It is recommended to place them about every 30 feet. There are many fly traps available for purchase at most stores, but there are also ways to make traps yourself. Flies are attracted to white surfaces as well as odors. A few examples of fly bait would be molasses, sugar, fruit or meat. One way to make your own fly trap is to place ¼ cup of sugar, 3-4 inches of apple cider vinegar, ½ cup of water and a drop of dish soap into a mason jar and cover it with saran wrap with a few holes in the top so that flies can get in but not out. Hanging these jars throughout the barn can help trap them and reduce the population.
There are also supplements you can feed your horses to help deter flies from being attracted to them. Once again, there are many premade supplements that can be purchased from the store or you can use human foods such as garlic and apple cider vinegar. Adding a little bit of garlic to your horse’s feed or a little bit of apple cider vinegar to their water allows for the horses to ingest it. Once ingested, it changes the way that your horse tastes/smells to insects, and it is said that these deter insects instead of attracting them. Consulting your vet about the rations of which to feed your horse these two items is recommended.
Lastly, using barriers and repellents are great ways to keep your horse happy and not so annoyed with flies around the barn. Purchasing apparel for your horse such as a fly mask and fly sheet are great for protecting against these irritating pests (even though keeping them on can be a challenge for some horses as the photo shows.) Spraying your horse with fly repellent is another deterrent. Fly spray is a necessity in the summer, and your horse will thank you for using it. It is recommended to spray before turnout as well as before an outdoor ride. A great way to make you own is to combine ingredients such as witch hazel, apple cider vinegar and eucalyptus oil into a spray bottle. This combination is fantastic because not only can you use it on your horse, but it is also safe to use on yourself for those outdoor rides when the sun is at its peak. As with any insect repellent, avoid spraying near the face/eyes of both you and your horse.
Although there are many more ways to help with fly control, these are a few of my favorites. These ideas can be very beneficial to any barn, big or small, and my hope is that they work for you! There is nothing worse than having a great ride ruined by these infuriating insects, and these ideas can help make for a great summer for both you and your horse.