Calf program checklist: Fly control

Posted on March 24, 2017 in Dairy Performance
By Ann Hoskins, Vita Plus calf products coordinator
As spring begins, it’s time to put your fly control plan into action. The key to good fly control is getting ahead of them and staying vigilant throughout the season.

February and March

  1. Discuss last year’s fly control program if you haven’t done so already.  What worked?  What didn’t?  What products were used and at what point in the system?
  • Consider bedding choices that will help with fly control.
  • Sand works well if you have adequate drainage.
  • Sawdust also works well, but make sure you control the dust.
  • Straw is the best for nesting, but isn’t always the easiest to keep dry.
  • A combination of straw and sawdust generally works well.
  1. Develop your integrated pest management (IPM) program for the coming season.  One form of fly control is never enough and various tools will be needed to manage flies throughout the season.
  • Feed-through products, such as ClariFly®, should be incorporated early (at least 30 days prior to the beginning of fly season is recommended).
  • Premise sprays, baits and pour-on products should be added when the flies begin to appear.
  1. Identify high-risk fly areas around your calf facilities.  Starting right away in the spring will keep these areas from getting out of control.
  • Keep water and feed areas clean and free of debris.
  • Keep calf pens dry.
  • Clean up any piled manure.
  • Cut down any weeds and overgrown grass.
  1. By mid- to late-March, all feed-through products should be incorporated into diets.

April – September

  1. Manage the environment around the calves. Keep areas clean and free of manure and organic matter.
  2. Incorporate other forms of fly control as needed. Generally, baits and premise sprays, in combination with ClariFly, will take care of the early and mid-summer months.


  1. Determine whether you need to change the combination of products and/or increase their use.  In a normal season, if you are vigilant in managing the calf environment, flies don’t get out-of-hand.  But, if you are lax at any point, flies may attack harder as the season progresses and it’s difficult to get ahead of them again.


  1. Continue using feed-through products until 30 days after the fly season.  Flies are still present and reducing populations in the fall will help you get ahead next spring.
  2. Other fly control strategies may wind down as the population decreases.

This article was originally written for the February 2017 edition of the Vita Plus Starting Strong calf care e-news.  Click here for more calf management expertise.

About the author:  Ann Hoskins is the Vita Plus calf products manager.  She grew up on a dairy farm in DeForest, Wisconsin, which she says is instrumental to where she is today.  “The lessons and values I gained growing up in this industry have given me the passion to stay involved and continue to learn more every day.”  Hoskins earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and has spent that last five years at Vita Plus, working with producers to improve performance and help them reach the goals of their calf operations. 

Category: Cow comfort
Dairy Performance
Fly control