As the weather begins to transition, it’s a good time for horse owners to starting thinking about preparing their farm for the battle against bugs. While there is no way to completely eliminate these flying pests, a coordinated approach can significantly reduce their numbers and will help in keeping the horses at the barn comfortable. The secret to success is to start early, with the right gear, and the right preparation.
Insects are not only a nuisance to horses, but they can also be potentially dangerous. Insects may spread diseases, and they can cause allergic reactions. Mosquitoes in particular are known for spreading diseases such as West Nile virus, Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE), and Western equine encephalitis (WEE). Horses may also develop an allergic response to the bite of Culicoides, also known as no-see-um’s. These pesky midges are best known for causing insect bite hypersensitivity or “sweet itch,” which can lead to itching, hair loss, scaling and crusting of the skin in affected areas.
To help your horse avoid these problems, it’s important to have a comprehensive insect management program that keeps you covered from all sides, from managing inside the barn, to having a strategy to protect horses during turnout. There are numerous types of insect control products that can help to create the ultimate management plan for your whole farm.
Keeping Flies off Your Property
Managing the environment is every bit as important as managing the horses’ immediate area. Standing water on the farm can pose as a breeding ground for insects like mosquitoes. While not all water can be eliminated, products like Mosquito Dunks are safe to use in drinking water and work to eliminate mosquitoes in standing water before they’re old enough to bite.
Since other types of insects prefer matter such as soiled bedding, not only must stalls and paddocks be cleaned frequently, the material must be removed, covered, or composted. Fly Predators are a great tool for managing such surrounding areas on the farm. Fly Predators are beneficial insects that interrupt the breeding cycle of flies. If used correctly, Fly Predators can essentially stop flies before they start.
Feeding Fly Control Supplements
Feed-through larvicides may be an additional option to consider when designing your comprehensive insect management program. These are designed to prevent the development of flies in the manure of treated horses. These feed-throughs work by breaking the lifecycle of the flies. Larvicides need to be fed to all of the horses on the property in order to be most effective.
An insect control supplement may be a great addition to a fly control program. Many horse owners will use supplements that contain ingredients such as garlic and apple cider vinegar to help protect the horse from the inside out. Insect control supplements containing these ingredients can discourage flies from biting or landing on your horse, even if he’s the only one on the supplement.
Manage Existing Flies
While it is impossible to eliminate all insects, there are ways to reduce the adult fly population quickly. One suggestion is to start with an aggressive trapping program. This can include use of fly traps, strips, sticks, bait, automatic misters and residual sprays. These tools can be used indoors and outdoors, so you can beat the bugs no matter where they are.
Protecting Your Horse
Horse owners can also provide additional protection to their animals by using fly masks, boots, and sheets, which create a physical barrier between the horse and insects. There are also repellents designed to be sprayed or wiped directly on horses. Spot-ons are more concentrated repellent that is applied less frequently and may be more appropriate for pasture-kept horses. Screens and fans can be used to provide inside horses with even more protection.
Beat the Bugs
To get everything you need to beat the bugs this season, plus free shipping on all orders over $75, visit SmartPak.com.
From the feed room to the tack room, SmartPak offers innovative solutions to help riders take great care of their horses. SmartPak was founded in 1999 with the introduction of the patented SmartPak supplement feeding system. The revolutionary, daily dose SmartPaks are custom-made for your horse, individually labeled and sealed for freshness. With the success of this simple and convenient feeding system, SmartPak has continued to expand its offering of quality products, including its own line of more than 55 supplement formulas called SmartSupplements, and a wide variety of tack, equipment, and supplies. The company has grown rapidly each year and is now the largest retailer of equestrian products in the United States. SmartPak’s success has been powered by a passion for delivering an unbeatable customer experience, and the company has been recognized with a Bizrate Circle of Excellence award.