July 27, 2015

 (Dan) Hey there folks, I am Dr. Dan Thomson. Thanks a lot for joining us today on DocTalk. We’re going to have a great show. Our guest is Dr. Bob Larson and he is the Coleman Chair and a professor at Kansas State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. We’re going to talk about flies, cattle, getting rid of those pesky things. I’m glad that you joined us. Stick around. It’s going to be a great show.

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(Dan) Welcome to the show Bob. (Bob) It’s good to be here. (Dan) Folks, Dr. Bob Larson and Dr. Larson is the Coleman Chair and he is a professor in clinical sciences here in the Department of Clinical Sciences at Kansas State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. And Bob has spent a lot of time not only in raising cattle, practice with cattle and then Extension and now research with cattle. (Bob) Yeah. (Dan) So, got a lot of experience and got a chance to move back home. (Bob) That’s right. (Dan) And continue on your career here at Kansas State. (Bob) That’s exactly right. We got a good group here and it’s fun to come to work every day. (Dan) Yep, yep we sure do and we’re very lucky. And so we’re going to talk about flies and you know, there’s lots of different types of flies and different things that they cause but let’s just kind of jump right in. (Bob) That’s exactly… when you think of summer time maybe you think about other more pleasant things, but you also think about flies. It’s the time of year when we deal with flies. And there are a number of different types of flies and the reason that’s important is their populations might peak at slightly different times of the summer. They cause different types of annoyance or problems for cattle. And we control them in different ways. So, even though we typically think of flies as just one category of nuisance as flies, but there’s actually several different types of flies that cattle producers are concerned about and work to minimize. (Dan) You bet. Well let’s talk a little bit about some of these different types of flies and because to me a fly’s a fly. Because a fly I am going to get after it. But there are some that leave you with a little more discomfort than others. (Bob) That’s right. There’s a few really important fly species that we deal with in cattle. For cattle out grazing on grass, probably the biggest ones are the horn fly and face fly. And somewhat also the horse fly. So, we’re going to target our control methods on those particular fly species. When you move cattle into a dry lot or a feed lot situation, then you’re talking about stable flies and house flies as a bigger problem. And again, we’ll talk a little bit more about this, but those flies have some differences, they have differences in the amount of time they spend on the cattle versus off the cattle. And differences in where they tend to lay their eggs and different parts of the life cycle that’s going to impact how we try to control them. (Dan) Well, all those are going to be important when you start to think about management products and things that you’re going to implement because if they don’t spend much time on the cattle and that, you probably don’t want to spend a lot of time controlling them there. (Bob) That’s exactly right, that’s exactly right. (Dan) So understanding their life cycle and understanding where they like to be is important. (Bob) Yes it is. And you know, and it also impacts other aspects of how they damage or how they cause problems for cattle. Some of the problems we see with flies are just the annoyance, some of them are blood suckers so they’re going to have a painful bite, they’re going to suck blood, they’re going to decrease growth performance, they’re going to change the behavior of cattle. They’ll drive the cattle to the shade or bunching up or getting in water to get away from the flies. All of those are problems both with animal welfare, animal health and productivity. Another thing that we think about with flies too that comes up is how this affects our neighbors. (Dan) Absolutely. Our neighbors, other cattlemen, our neighbors that don’t raise cattle. One of the reasons we try to control flies is not only for the health and comfort of the cattle but I don’t really want to get phone calls from neighbors that are angry because there are a lot of flies on their property that came from my property. (Dan) Absolutely. (Bob) So those are all reasons that we try to attack these dang things all summer long. We worry about flies and they take some effort to control. (Dan) Cool. We’re going to take a break. When we come back from the break, we’re going to get into talking about some flies on grazing cattle and how to control and prevent that. You’re watching Doc Talk and we’re sure glad you joined us.

(Dan) Folks welcome back to Doc Talk. Dr. Dan Thomson here with my friend and guest Dr. Bob Larson. And Dr. Larson is a world renowned bovine practitioner and clinician, a professor here at Kansas State University and we’re tickled to death to have you on the show and have you sharing some of this with us. When we’re talking about flies, one of the…we’re going to get into the grazing cattle, when I was in practice, we had this terrible outbreak of flies next to one of my clients feeding facilities. (Bob) Yeah. (Dan) Well, the field next to us was a cucumber patch that they were raising cucumbers for Vlasic pickles or somebody’s pickles. And the cucumbers got too big and so they wouldn’t fit in the jar or something to that nature, so they put them all in a pit for a slurry. (Bob) And here came the flies. (Dan) We got flies like you couldn’t believe. But it’s like what we’re talking about when we left about the neighbor and some of those things and sorry maybe it wasn’t Vlasic, I don’t know the brand name of the pickle. Don’t write the pickle company, but anyway it’s things we don’t think about. (Bob) That’s exactly right, flies are… they’re very adaptable and they will find ways to be annoying. (Dan) Dirty boogers. (Bob) Yeah. (Dan) All right, so let’s talk about flies on grazing cattle (Bob) Yeah. (Dan) And some of the things that we have there. (Bob) Yeah, the two biggest flies that we are worried about with grazing cattle are horn flies and face flies. They’re actually fairly different in that the horned fly is a biting fly, it’s blood meals. And it mostly lives on the back and shoulders of cattle and sometimes on their pole. They’re called horn flies but they don’t spend that much time up on the horns. (Dan) They’re not on the horns. (Bob) But the back and the sides. Like I say they have a piercing mouth part, they’re going to take blood meals and that’s annoying to the cattle. We see decrease in weight gain performance, decrease in milk production. The stable fly has also been associated with passing mastitis in beef cattle. So, it’s associated… it has a number of problems. It spends almost all of its time on cattle, so most of our control methods are focused on the fact that we can’t treat the cattle and have an impact on the fly. (Dan) Yeah, these are the ones that when you see the cow shake or shiver…(Bob) And you get the… (Dan)… and the cloud comes off… (Bob) Yep, exactly. (Dan)… the cow. Boy, I tell you what, the constant tail swishing and things to that nature. (Bob) Yeah, they’re a problem. Now the face fly is the other fly that we really worry about a lot with grazing cattle. It is, it’s different, and it’s a bigger fly if you want to look at them closely or side by side, than a horn fly. And they spend most of their time around the face of the cattle. They don’t have a piercing mouth part, they suck on the fluids that come out the eyes and nose and things like that. One of the biggest problems with face flies is they’ll cause enough damage around that eye or in that eye and they move from animal to animal so that they can spread the organisms that cause pink eye in cattle. And that really… really its biggest effect is the fact that it’s spreading the disease pink eye. The flies by themselves are not that annoying to the cattle. They don’t really spend that much time on the
cattle, they spend most of their time off of the cattle in vegetation,
decaying vegetation, things like that away from the cattle and only come back and occasionally feed and again that impacts the way we are able to attack these animals or these flies and again, the real problem is the fact that it is associated with spreading pink eye. (Dan) Great. We’re going to take a break. When we come back from the break we’re going to get into the difference between some of the grazing cattle and the dry lot cattle and some of the things you think about with flies. Thanks Bob for being here today and thank you for watching. More about flies with Dr. Bob Larson after the break.

(Dan) Folks, welcome back to Doc Talk, Dr. Dan Thomson here with Dr. Bob Larson. Dr. Larson is the Coleman Chair and professor in the Department of Clinical Sciences here at the Veterinary School at Kansas State University. And talking about flies, talking about the face fly and horn flies out on the grazing cattle. Now we’re going to move into dry lot. So, we bring cattle into dry lots, feed lot situations, stocker operations. What is the difference that we’re going to see as far as species? (Bob) Well, when we move to a dry lot situation, feed lots, we tend to see primarily stable flies and house flies. One of the reasons that is a little bit different or important to think about compared to grazing cattle, the flies, horse flies.. or no, house… horn flies… (Dan) Yep. (Bob)… and face flies both like to lay their eggs in basically fresh manure pats, OK? (Dan) OK. (Bob) The flies we see in a dry lot situation, they actually prefer to lay their eggs in decaying vegetation. And particularly if it’s mixed with a little bit of manure. Feed, manure, wet moist feed areas are the places where the flies that we see in dry lot situations are laying their eggs. Therefore, when we think about control, we really do focus a lot on not just manure, but other places where the animals, or the flies will lay their eggs, primarily spilled feed, spoiled feed, so things like sanitation becomes really important just keeping things as cleaned up, picked up as possible to try to keep the places where those flies can lay eggs down to a minimum. (Dan) Yeah, and you start to think about we got to feed hay to calves and we’re starting them, but when you get it out in the alley way and you don’t get your feed alleys cleaned up or old bale rings… (Bob) Old bale rings, silage pits, feed piles, the edges… right under the bunks where feed kind of accumulates, those are all great areas for the flies to accumulate and so they’re areas that we really target to keep cleaned up and minimized to avoid fly problems. (Dan) You bet. So in the dry lot situation you know I think that we always think of more of the issues with flies being more outside of dry lots, but it can be a pretty big deal inside and so the house flies also are known for transmitting some disease potentially, correct? (Bob) Yeah, there’s just… if you think about where flies move, from animal to animal, from manure to animals and those kinds of things, there’s a number of different diseases that they can move around in cattle operations that we are just trying to suppress as much as possible. (Dan) And the other thing is, we went back to the neighbor deal, you don’t want to be out there eating your piece of watermelon this summer… (Bob) No, I don’t. (Dan)…and have the flies keep coming. And the other thing is that we have seen that the flies will transmit the E. coli o157. (Bob) Yeah, there are a number of things, so we really do want to try to keep those populations down as low as possible. But you know, in that feed lot environment you know, the actual middle of the pen where it is packed down pretty good, that’s not where the flies are going to lay eggs and live. It’s going to be along the edges, along the fencerows. It’s going to be around the water tanks, particularly if it gets kind of wet and moist there and just off the yard. As you divert rainwater and off flow into lagoon pens and things like that, those are areas where the flies can develop as well. (Dan) Yep. (Bob) So, when you think about a dry lot, you think a lot about sanitation, just trying to get rid of any of those places where the flies like to lay eggs. (Dan) Keep the weeds mowed down folks. (Bob) That’s right. (Dan) All right. Well, when we come back, we’re going to get close up our show on flies. We’ve been having a great time here with Dr. Bob Larson from Kansas State University. We’re going to have a little more after the break.

(Dan) Folks, welcome back to Doc Talk, Dr. Dan Thomson here with Dr. Bob Larson. And we’re looking at some new contraption here- the vet gun, to flies… (Bob) I’d have to get to be a better shot to pick off those flies one by one with that, I think. (Dan) Yeah, that’s right. That’s right. Guns don’t kill flies, I kill flies. But anyway, all kidding aside, we’re going to talk about how to control these flies. And prevent the flies… (Bob) Yeah. (Dan)…in the system. And let’s start out with the dry lot. (Bob) Yeah, let’s do. Now remember because the flies that we’re most concerned about on a dry lot situation, they tend to lay their eggs where there’s vegetative matter or vegetative matter mixed with manure. And so it’s all about sanitation, cleaning up the feed areas, not letting it get wet around watering, waterers, troughs, those kind of things. So, it’s really a lot about sanitation, keeping things cleaned up as much as possible. Because the fly doesn’t spend much time on the cattle, we don’t typically talk about spraying cattle in a dry lot situation. We might spray the premises… these same stable flies, when they’re not on the cattle they’ll be on fence rails, they’ll be on surfaces around the area. (Dan) Weeds. (Bob) Yeah, they’re just not on the cattle. So spraying the weeds, spraying the facilities, and those kind of things, we can do that as a premise spray as well as, there is use of parasitic wasps and other things that attack the little larvae in that stage. (Dan) Feed through, feed through products that wind up in the manure. (Bob) Yeah there’s several ways we attack them. But in a dry lot situation it’s going to start with sanitation. (Dan) Sanitation and trying to kill the pupae or the eggs. (Bob) That’s right. (Dan) Exactly. What about grazing cattle? (Bob) In grazing it’s a little bit different. In that situation, the flies, both the horn fly and the face fly like to lay their eggs in the fresh fecal pats. Well, out on a big pasture, we’re not going to really impact that very much. We’re not going to go pick them up. (Dan) Well, it’s hard to spray 80 acres. (Bob) And so, it’s really about using our chemical controls for these flies in a way that is timely and most effective to get it to the cattle. We’ve got several ways we can deliver the fly control chemicals to cattle. We can use ear tags. (Dan) Yep. (Bob) We can use back rubbers, dust bags, oilers, and sprays. All of those are ways to deliver one of several different types of chemicals onto the cattle to control flies. (Dan) Guns. (Bob) Yeah. Guns. (Dan) We got… solution with a trigger. (Bob) That’s right. Exactly. So, yeah, we’re trying to deliver that chemical. Now the one thing about the manure, I said that we couldn’t do much about them. There are some feed through insecticides that basically in a mineral mix or otherwise the cattle consume a product, and insect growth regulator, that then when passed in the manure, and the fly lays an egg there, it disrupts the ability of that egg and pupae, larvae to develop properly. And those work in some situations. The biggest problem with them is the cattle need to consume that consistently and in situations when cattle are moving between herds, flies are moving between herds, if neighbors aren’t using that same product then you don’t get the same level of control. So, typically we don’t talk about controlling the manure in a grazing situation, but there are some tools for that. (Dan) Well, you’ve been a great guest today and as always some great information for our producers and veterinarians. (Bob) Good. Well, hopefully everybody can enjoy the summer without a lot of fly problems. (Dan) Thanks. Hey, if you want to know more about what Dr. Larson and I do here at Kansas State University, you can find us on the web at www.vet.ksu.edu. Remember, always work with your local practitioner. I’m Dr. Dan Thomson thanks for joining us this morning on Doc Talk. And I’ll see you down the road.

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