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Fly Time is Back

Jerry Bertoldo, Dairy
Northwest New York Dairy, Livestock & Field Crops

June 25, 2013

Although difficult to imagine why, flies do have a role in the master plan of nature. As far as cattle go, however, flies lack any redeeming value. Their control has led to creative chemical and mechanical remedies. Unfortunately, we often ignore the basic consideration needed, that of environmental management.

Since fly propagation relies on moisture and organic matter buildup, wet bedding, manure piles, waste feed or even the neighbor's grass clippings are ideal places to mass produce these pests. Only the horse and deer fly do not take advantage of manure or manure laden material as a choice breeding ground.

Production and health problems
Flies in our climate are not important disease carries. Pinkeye and some mastitis problems can be directly attributed to flies irritating the eye or teat end and introducing pathogens. The biting stable and horn fly are considered the most economically significant ones impacting weight gain in youngstock and milk production in cattle. Horn flies are pasture pests. A 10-20 lbs. missed opportunity weight gain is common for youngstock during the grazing season. For dairy cows, a 20% drop in milk production can be experienced with regular grazing.

Closing down the fly brooder house - things to do
  • Clean up waste feed and manure piles within one week's time.
  • Don't let rainwater, manure and silage leachate puddle if possible.
  • Spread manure as thin as possible to promote dry down.
  • Don't let feeding areas in front of calves and cows in the barn or out on pasture build up and stay wet 
  • Use shavings, sand or pea gravel in fly season for bedding instead of straw.
  • Keep in mind that the base of un-wrapped round bales stored in the field afford the same breeding ground as more obvious problem causing organic waste.

Other fly control measures
Natural control of flies does exist in the form of small wasps, mites and beetles. The extensive breeding areas our livestock production areas provide is large, however. Fly reproduction is much more rapid than that of their enemies. The release of fly predators (often small wasp-like insects) on a regular basis starting in mid-May effectively keeps the fly population explosion from happening. This does not work very well if a close neighbor does nothing as far as fly control and exports their flying friends to your place or you start predator release in July!

Premises sprays can be useful particularly around calf hutches and breeding ground sites. Keep in mind, however, that some of these pesticides will not only kill flies, but the natural or store bought predators to boot! Check the label. Products that kill fly larvae in manure can be fed to both the old and young. Clarifly® and Rabon® are examples. Neither of these poses a threat to natural fly predators if used this way. Both products kill the fly larvae preventing any pupae from developing. It is the pupal stage, not the earlier larval one that fly predators attack.

Fly tags, back rubs, dust bags, insecticide sprays or pour-ons are useful tools against flies, but precautions about labeled use in dairy cattle must be taken. Effect and duration may vary widely. Sprays should never be mixed with diesel fuel or other oils before application. Toxic levels of absorbed insecticide may result. Keep in mind that products must be rotated and used according to label to avoid fly resistance problems.

Don't forget the old-fashioned sticky tapes and ribbons. These can control low to moderate fly populations around premises if changed when needed. Devices such as the Epps Biting Fly Trap
 can be very useful on species not controlled by predators, larvacides or premises sprays. These attract flies by contour and lighting contrasts mimicking how animals appear to biting flies.

For a revolutionary solution to addressing flies there is the new Cow Vac product form Spalding Labs. This link will tell the story:











calendar of events

Upcoming Events

Beginning Farmer/Hobby Farmer Workshop $5/pp, class size is limited, so pre-register by April 15th!

April 27, 2019
9:00 am - 1:00 pm
Canandaigua, NY

This hands-on workshop is for beginning or part-time farmers who would like to improve their farm machinery skills, learn to properly and safely maintain their equipment to protect their investment. If you have been thinking about buying a tractor, new or used, two-wheel or four-wheel drive, compact or utility or more come join us. Topics include: selecting the right size/type tractor for the job; basic maintenance; staying safe around tractors and equipment; attaching implements properly; and information about ROPS and SMV's. There will be time for questions.

Pre-registration requested by April 15, 2019 email Amy with your name, address, and phone number or call 585-394-3977 x 429.
Fee: $5.00/person. Class size is limited.

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2019 Pastured Poultry Seminar, lunch included so please register by May 10th! $25/person

May 18, 2019
Registration begins at 8:00 a.m.w/ coffee & donuts with the Program running from 9:00 a.m. - 5 p. m.
Attica, NY

The main speaker this year is Eli Reiff of Mifflinburg Pennsylvania. Eli raises broilers, turkeys, sheep, and beef, all on pasture. Topics to be covered will include the pasture, feed and nutrition, marketing, costs, and much more. As we grow as farm operators and get bigger, we may not pay as much attention to the basics as we should. So those areas are where we will start, and then expand to cover the group's interests.

Mike Badger, Director of the American Pastured Poultry Producers Association will also be available for a round-table discussion. Plans are to have representatives from Farm Bureau, NYCAMH for farm health and safety, Wyoming County Chamber of Commerce, and Cornell Cooperative Extension of Wyoming County, as well as others.

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Calling all 9th-12th graders! 4th Annual Precision Agriculture Day at Genesee Community College

May 21, 2019
9:00 am - 1:30 pm Register by Friday May 10th! $15/per person includes lunch
Batavia, NY

Calling all 9th-12th graders!  We have an exciting new program for students interested in technology, science, engineering, and agriculture!
Would you like to:
  • Learn about how Drones collect information
  • Check out some potential career opportunities that have new and ever-changing technology
  • Learn how these technologies can be used in our own backyards in WNY
  • Discover potential and exciting career opportunities

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Producers Previously Enrolled in the LGM Program Now Eligible for MPP

Dairy Producers Previously Enrolled in the Livestock Gross Margin Program Now Eligible for 2018 Margin Protection Program
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced that dairy producers who elected to participate in the Livestock Gross Margin for Dairy Cattle Program (LGM-Dairy) now have the opportunity to participate in the Margin Protection Program for Dairy (MPP-Dairy) for 2018 coverage. Sign-up will take place March 25 through May 10, 2019.
Eligible producers can enroll during the sign-up period at their local USDA service center. To locate your office, visit

Smart Farming Team Technical Assistance Grant Application

The Labor Ready Farmer Project is offering grants to provide up to 12 hours of Technical Assistance (TA) consulting services to farms who want to make improvements to their farm's processes in hiring, training, managing or evaluating employees. Applicants will choose from one of the following four areas for TA assistance and identify a specific project. If selected they will be matched with a "Smart Farming Team" of consultants who will provide one on one technical assistance.
Please complete this application and send to Nicole Waters, Beginning Farm Project Coordinator for the Cornell Small Farms Program. The form can be submitted by email, mail or in-person at the address listed below. Please feel free to call or email with any questions.

Nicole Waters - Beginning Farmer Project Coordinator
Plant Science Building, Room 15b
Tower Road, Cornell University
Ithaca, NY 14853
Phone: 607-255-9911

Applications accepted on a rolling basis.

USDA Announces January Income over Feed Cost Margin Triggers First 2019 Dairy Sa

WASHINGTON, March 6, 2019 ? The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Farm Service Agency (FSA) announced this week that the January 2019 income over feed cost margin was $7.99 per hundredweight, triggering the first payment for eligible dairy producers who purchase the appropriate level of coverage under the new but yet-to-be established Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) program.

DMC, which replaces the Margin Protection Program for Dairy, is a voluntary risk management program for dairy producers that was authorized by the 2018 Farm Bill. DMC offers protection to dairy producers when the difference between the all milk price and the average feed cost (the margin) falls below a certain dollar amount selected by the producer.

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced last week that sign up for 
DMC will open by mid-June of this year. At the time of sign up, producers who elect a DMC coverage level between $8.00 and $9.50 would be eligible for a payment for January 2019.

For example, a dairy operation with an established production history of 3 million pounds (30,000 cwt.) that elects the $9.50 coverage level for 50 percent of its production could potentially be eligible to receive $1,887.50 for January.

Sample calculation:
$9.50 - $7.99 margin = $1.51 difference
$1.51 times 50 percent of production times 2,500 cwt. (30,000 cwt./12) = $1,887.50

The calculated annual premium for coverage at $9.50 on 50 percent of a 3-million-pound production history for this example would be $2,250.

Sample calculation:
3,000,000 times 50 percent = 1,500,000/100 = 15,000 cwt. times 0.150 premium fee = $2,250

Operations making a one-time election to participate in DMC through 2023 are eligible to receive a 25 percent discount on their premium for the existing margin coverage rates.

"Congress created the Dairy Margin Coverage program to provide an important financial safety net for dairy producers, helping them weather shifting milk and feed prices," FSA Administrator Richard Fordyce said. "This program builds on the previous Margin Protection Program for Dairy, carrying forward many of the program upgrades made last year based on feedback from producers. We're working diligently to implement the DMC program and other FSA programs authorized by the 2018 Farm Bill."

Additional details about DMC and other FSA farm bill program changes can be found at

New Guidance for Mortality Disposal Issued

NYS Department of Ag and Markets has posted guidelines on disposal of livestock carcasses, in response to reports that some rendering companies have halted pickups from farms.|1