Protecting Cows from Flies During Calving Season: Why to Reduce Risk

Spring is the season of new life, so it should be no surprise to anyone that spring is when many members of the animal kingdom give birth. This includes cattle. In conjunction with the spring calving season, cattle births significantly increase in late February and throughout March and April.

Still, with spring's warm weather comes an increase in the populations of more undesirable life forms, flies. You may think flies are just pests you can swat away and forget. But it's not that easy for your cattle, especially newborn calves. Cattle flies pose significant and ongoing health risks to cattle of all ages. Therefore, during calving season, it's imperative to kick your fly control regimen into an even higher gear. 

Keep reading to learn more about flies' threats to expectant cattle and calves. Then, consider how Champion Animal Health's solutions can help you implement a strong fly control program.

Fly Threats to Cattle During Spring 

Flies pose risks to your entire herd year-round, and obviously, these risks apply to expectant cattle and (later) their calves. Still, the arrival of spring only increases the risk of fly infestations. As vegetation regrows during the spring, plenty of organic matter is around. All of this growth creates an environment that is perfect for flies. And as flies begin to reproduce, the health and safety risks they pose to cattle also increase.

When we talk about cattle flies, we do not mean just the average house fly that may hang around your kitchen. We are talking about flies like the horn fly, face fly and stable fly too, all of which can transmit conditions like pinkeye, anthrax, salmonella, beef heifer mastitis, typhoid and bovine respiratory disease to your herd.

Not only can these fly-borne illnesses lead to high veterinary costs, but they can also cause other significant financial challenges. When flies land on, bite or irritate cows, they cause the animal to experience stress. Moreover, as cattle stomp, flap their tails and move around to get flies off of them, they can also quickly become tired (which is likewise a cause of stress). As a result, they may lose weight, their milk production may drop, and they may be less healthy overall. An unhealthy herd could lead to a decline in its market value, and of course, herd losses lead to no market value at all. It's easy to see why flies can badly damage your bottom line.

What's more, the arrival of the spring calving season will (as expected) lead to an increase in your herd size, increasing the number of at-risk cattle. Also, pregnant cows and newborn calves may face even higher fly-borne disease risks than others in the herd.

The Added Risks of Flies During Calving Season

It isn't much of a stretch to say that expectant cattle and (later) their newborn calves are similar to expectant mothers and their babies. 

Like human mothers, pregnant female cows are at a higher risk of illnesses and other problems that may cause complications with their pregnancies and endanger the lives of the unborn calves. As for newborn and young calves, we see many of the same concerns that apply to babies and toddlers. Like human babies, calves have neither the physical strength nor the immunity to combat illnesses as effectively as adults. Therefore, any fly infestation affecting a pregnant or very young cow can bring a compounded risk of complications. For these reasons, keeping fly infestations away from pregnant and newborn cattle remains as essential as ever, if not more so.

Furthermore, flies around newborn cattle can cause as significant a stress issue as they can around adults. When a calf is stressed due to the presence of flies, it may not nurse or eat appropriately, which in turn may lead to weight loss, stunted growth and other complications. Additionally, suppose a nursing mother cow experiences a drop in milk production due to a fly issue. In that case, the calf may be unable to nurse appropriately and experience weight loss and other considerable problems.

As a result, it's essential to implement as strong a cattle fly control system as possible during the spring calving season. One of the most effective ways to do so is to use JustiFLY from Champion Animal Health.

For Cattle Fly Control, Choose JustiFly

JustiFLY from Champion Animal Health is ideal for year-round fly control, including during spring calving. This feedthrough solution is easy to add to your cattle's feeding routine, where it will go to work reducing the fly population among your herd.

The JustiFLY feedthrough contains insect growth regulator (IGR) larvicides that are not harmful to cattle but deadly to flies. When cattle consume the IGR, it passes through their systems and is deposited in their waste. When flies lay eggs in the manure, the IGR inhibits the formation of the larvaes' exoskeletons, preventing them from hatching into healthy adults, thus breaking the flies' lifecycles.

JustiFLY products offer reliable and practical fly control for cattle of all ages. They can become an essential source of protection for expectant mothers and newborn calves. By using JustiFLY throughout spring calving (and indeed, all year round), you can better ensure that you have a healthy, happy and thriving herd now and in the future.