keeping pastures free of flies and parasites - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 11 Old 05-18-2020, 01:18 PM Thread Starter
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keeping pastures free of flies and parasites

I'm still thinking ahead to our new place. As of now, there hasn't been livestock on those pastures for at least 10 years, so they should be free of flies and horse parasites. I'd really like to keep them that way. Any thoughts on how I can do that? We also don't have any bordering neighbors who keep livestock, although there are horses at multiple properties a couple of houses down.

I'm already planning on cross-fencing into three two-acre pastures and one one-acre pasture (plus the .3 acre paddock that is already there) and rotating grazing. My plan was, in spring and summer, to have them on each small pasture for three-four weeks, then rotate to the next one, then mow the previous one to cut everything down to the same height and hopefully break up clumps of manure. I might also go in there at the midway point and try to scoop some of it. In the winter and early spring, they will be on a dry lot, with constant scooping. As for autumn, I think I'm going to play it by ear.

How far should the manure pile be from the barn to minimize flies in the barn?

I've been thinking about this a lot lately because the new place where we board has so many flies, it's just unreal. We didn't have to worry about them at all at the old place, but the pastures here are overstocked and are never cleaned. The flies are just disgusting, and they just bother the horses to no end.

I'm also hoping that if we move to a place with no parasites in the pastures, I can manage to keep it that way. The less dewormer I have to use, the happier everyone will be.

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post #2 of 11 Old 05-18-2020, 02:12 PM
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If you are willing to take on more pets, I would get chickens. Chickens love to dig through manure piles and eat fly larvae and other pests like ticks. The barns that I have been around in the UP have noticeably less flies when there are chickens on the property. Plus, farm fresh eggs make the extra work worth it. I 100% plan on keeping chickens with my horses when one day I get my own property.

I know some people that have used 'fly predators' - the problem with those is if there are any other livestock properties nearby, they won't work as well, as flies will come from other nearby properties. Everyone around you would have to commit to them, and they can get pricey.

The best thing you can do is stay on top of cleaning up manure, and having the manure pile away from the horses. Any barn I have been in was very minimal in flies as long as the manure was cleaned out from inside of the barn and around the immediate perimeter. Fans help discourage flies with the air flow. One lady I worked for had thick rubber 'car-wash' like panels at all of the horse entrances to decrease how many flies get in.

Lots of things to try and consider :)
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post #3 of 11 Old 05-18-2020, 02:39 PM Thread Starter
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People say that about the chickens, but when we had chickens in our backyard, we definitely had more flies than when we didn't. And maybe horse / cow manure is different, but the chickens weren't interested in going through their own poop for eggs and stuff. Maybe they know better than to eat their own parasites.
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post #4 of 11 Old 05-18-2020, 02:50 PM
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The flies that are attracted to chicken poop are non biters. If you are religious about scraping the pen then your number decreases dramatically and then they in turn eat the biting fly larvae out of other manure. We have been keeping ours confined (chickens) to a small area rather than free range and we have a horrid biting fly population this year.
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post #5 of 11 Old 05-18-2020, 05:57 PM
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Guinea fowl are better at pest control than chickens and they make great predator alarms. I would really look into fly predators if it were my call. The company is very helpful with information when it comes to getting set up. We have had great success with them. We also oriented our barn (when it was being built) so that it had air flow going through it. Flies don't like wind.
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post #6 of 11 Old 05-18-2020, 06:07 PM Thread Starter
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I think I will try fly predators, at least for the barn. It can't hurt. The nearest livestock is one mini horse who lives two houses down. But he's super old (he was owned by the person who built our new house, and... well, there's quite the story there but probably no one cares) and may not be around when we actually move there in a few years. Aside from that, the nearest ones are at least 200 feet away, probably more like 300 feet. I think that's enough distance to be OK?

Having said that, will they be effective in the pastures? Or only the barn area?

I remember I looked into guinea fowl at one point and then decided against them for some reason. I can't remember why. Are they really loud and annoying? I've heard they are really good for eating orchard pests also. Hmm, maybe the reason was I didn't think I could eat their eggs? Do they lay continuously like chickens do?

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post #7 of 11 Old 05-18-2020, 06:08 PM
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Fly predators work really well in our current barn. Granted, we only have 6 horses on 40+ acres, but still... This year we were a bit late with releasing the first ones and we have currently more flies than normal.

At the old boarding place bot flies were horrible. Here, all horses get checked for bot eggs, scarped if needed and we do targeted deworming with ivermectin... I still need to see a bot fly on the property after 3 years!
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post #8 of 11 Old 05-19-2020, 05:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ACinATX View Post
. . . I remember I looked into guinea fowl at one point and then decided against them for some reason. I can't remember why. Are they really loud and annoying? I've heard they are really good for eating orchard pests also. Hmm, maybe the reason was I didn't think I could eat their eggs? Do they lay continuously like chickens do?
I have no practical experience, just have read some on guinea fowl, but I believe they hide their nests. From what I've read they wander more than chickens, and are hard to get in at night vs. just roosting in the trees (have to consistently train them from a young age), and a lot of people lose them quickly to predators. I'm considering them for some future time, but doubt they'd last long here.
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post #9 of 11 Old 05-19-2020, 11:14 PM
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I’ll beat the chicken drum as well. Look into the portable chicken coop called A chicken ark. They can be small, and moved around like a big wheelbarrow, or fairly large, requiring a tractor or riding mower to move.

As you rotate your horses from pasture to pasture, you can also move the chicken ark.

If you get hens only, you can control the population and enjoy fresh eggs daily. Some people eat the hens once they stop laying. Others keep them on as pets.

Our chickens are free range with a fixed poultry house. Most roost in the poultry house, but others have gone partly feral. They all forage in the compost pile as well as scattering nearby horse manure.
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post #10 of 11 Old 05-20-2020, 04:05 PM
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You need 60 days of no animals on the paddock and no more than a week per paddock to have no parasites. You'll still need to deworm for bots 2x a year.
As far as poop and flies, get a rake and spread the poop daily. It'll dry out and then compost faster, w/o as many flies, too. Use the hanging fly traps that you add water to. Hang them far from buildings, as they attract all flies, not just ones on your land.
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