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Why Do Cows Attract Flies?

Rowan Burgess |

Flies are a nuisance, but never so much as they are to your cattle, especially in the warmer months. Cows attract flies for a variety of reasons, but it’s the dangers that they pose to your cattle that can be more alarming. 

It’s essential to understand why your cattle will attract flies and how best to defeat a fly infestation to avoid a loss of livestock or profit. 

Why Are Flies Attracted to Cows?

Various fly species affect livestock in the UK annually, including, but not limited to, horn, house, stable, and face flies. The insects are primarily attracted to various secretions from the cattle, such as milk, blood, urine, and tear fluid. Once attracted to the cattle, they're likely to bite them directly and cause annoyance, which can trigger a change of behaviours in your cattle. 

Why Do Flies Fly Around Cows Faces?

Flies are so attracted to cows that a research team made an artificial cow to attract flies to kill them. The reason insects are drawn to cows and their faces derives from the fly species. For example, the horn and face flies are the primary suspects who rip and pierce the cow’s skin around their face and body. 

Per day, each fly can administer 30 to 40 painful bites to one cow, so it’s no surprise why the behaviour of your cattle might worsen after a day or two of a fly infestation. Once a fly finds a cow, it stays on or around it for most of its life cycle, laying eggs on livestock's manure.

That’s why you must investigate how to control flies on your farm to avoid a change in behaviour in your cattle and to prevent the presence of larvae. 

Do Flies Pose a Risk to Cattle?

Yes! Cattle won’t simply suffer a few annoying bites; insects carry diseases and can also alter your livestock's behaviour, eventually resulting in a loss of profit. 

Like any human's morale when bitten by flies, such as mosquitos, cows find insect bites an unpleasant experience. The more insects bite a cow, the more likely they’ll go off their food. With all the endless stomping, shaking, and swatting cattle need to do to keep the flies at bay, they decrease their energy and limit their time to graze, leading to weight loss.

Which Diseases Can Cows Get From Flies?

Flies often carry a vast array of diseases, and it’s no surprise that the more insects surround and bite your cattle, the more likely the flies are to pass on these diseases. Some of these disease include:

  • Moraxella Bovis - An bacterial infection commonly referred to as Pink Eye, also known as Infectious Keratoconjunctivitis and New Forest Eye. Once a cow is infected, the bacteria can be quickly passed on among animals. If one of your cows gets pink eye, it won’t be long before it spreads through your cattle. It can produce painful cloudiness in your cattle’s eyes and require antibiotic treatment. In severe cases, your livestock could go blind or even lose the affected eye. 
  • Bovine Leukosis - This blood-borne disease is a virus that attacks the cow’s white blood cells. It’s a malignant disease similar to that of leukaemia. 
  • Anaplasmosis - Usually spread via ticks, Anaplasmosis spreads via insects carrying the bacteria. It’s a highly infectious disease and can become fatal to your cattle. 
  • Summer mastitis - This fly-borne infection often results in the partial loss of a functioning udder. As well as costing a lot to treat, your cattle will be in pain with this infection. 

How Do I Get Rid of Flies Around My Cows?

A recent study demonstrates that painting cattle like a zebra can result in a 50% loss of biting flies landing, which increases mood in the cattle. Although this method reduces insects on your cattle, it isn’t the most practical method. Instead, consider insect control that you can rely on. 

The Dairy Fly Spray Super Concentrate (500ml solution) is an excellent economical solution to your insect control needs. This product will last plenty of uses as you only need to mix 50ml of the solution with 5 litres of water to have the ultimate fly spray. Safe to use around cattle, this spray is easy to use, kills flies fast, and is far easier than painting your cattle!

Final Thoughts

Flies are a nuisance to humans and cattle alike; however, a fly infestation among your cattle will not only be costly should your cattle get a disease, but it could also prove fatal. It’s best to confidently prepare for flies, especially in the warmer months, so discover how Dalton Engineering can equip you with the best insect control products today!