As much as we don’t like to admit it, flies are a vital part of the ecosystem helping to break down natural waste materials. An over-abundance of flies, however, becomes an utterly annoying nuance not only to us humans but likewise our animal companions around us. Walk into many stables spring through summer and you’ll hear that dim buzz which reaches its peak as you walk in to an individual stall. In the heavily marketed world of horses we’re spoon fed how we can do this or that to get relief from flies. I’ve been a horse girl my entire life, started freelance writing in 1995 and working specifically in equestrian publishing in 2007 so I’ve been around a significant amount of flies and tried a plethora of “cure all” fly fixes. To let you down, there’s not a single thing that can 100% rid your stable of flies. Nope. For me, fly control is a partnership of resources; proper manure management, odor control, and eco-conscious products. I've personally used all these products and, other than working with the awesome folks at Spalding Labs, have no other commercial relationships with any them so this is not a paid endorsement.

The management of manure waste is a multi-part process. With sustainability and earth-friendly concepts in mind, I look to the 1st R – reduce. By using a pelleted bedding, I'm able to significantly reduce the amount of bedding used. Find a pelleted bedding that is 100% kiln-dried pine which will clump urine spots. Unlike shavings which are removed in droves with stall cleaning, a quality pelleted bedding sifts easily.

Keeping stable organization as clutter free as possible, I've used the same a multi-purposed cart for muck buckets, hay, bedding transport, water bucket refills, landscape, lawn care, and generally moving farm and home items about the property since 2010! I’ve also been using the same Shake’n Fork® and Flex’n Fork® since 2014. Have you ever heard the phrase, “I’m gonna come unglued like a Walmart coffee table?” Rather than buying cheap today for it to only break a month later, I believe in buying the best one can afford, once. The Shake’n Fork sifting action saves me time cleaning the stall, saves my arms from repeat actions with its push button mechanical sifting so I can save my hands for dressage training and writing. The Flex’n Fork fine tined version allows me to pick the small bits of manure and the miniature horses stall easily.

Flies have a massive sense of smell and flock to the smells of urine and manure. Finishing off the stall cleaning process, I spray Bye Bye Odor® where the urine spot was on the stall mat. It’s not an odor cover up but rather the microbes in Bye Bye Odor eliminate odor all together. We all know how abrasive the smell of ammonia is and unkept it hovers over the first 6 inches of your stall. Lean down and take a whiff near your stall floor... you know, that area where you horse lays or typically eats their hay to realize what they breath to realize how much good adding Bye Bye Odor to your management program will be for your horse's overall health and well-being.

All the manure and urine goes to the pile. If you live in a dry area and are lucky enough to have a spreader well congrats as this is wonderful manure management tool too. Remember to run your spreader at least every 7 days so as to beat any flies that might try reproducing in it. If you live in a wet area, it's best to pile your manure since flies can only breed in the first few inches of a pile whereas further in is simply too hot for breeding. Regularly turn your piles to help it compost faster. I use Fly Predators® to discontinue the production of adult flies. Unlike traps or baits, Fly Predators kill the flies before they even hatch thereby fixing the problem before it occurs! There are other fly parasite brands but the most advertised ones are not the same as Fly Predators and all 8 scientific studies shows they are not effective for large animals. Stick with brand recognition with this one. Those other brands won't work.

My neighbors behind me are not as fastidious with fly control but I have a fix for that. I have a super 6 foot tall privacy fence running the back length of the property which I hang house fly odor traps on the neighbor side of my fence. The key with odor traps is to make sure they are away from your pastures and stables as they are design to attract flies. To go a little further, I sprinkle little of my monthly Fly Predators shipment on my neighbors side of the fence where their horses normally manure. Fly Predators can travel up to 150 feet in their lifetime so they can reach those unpicked manure piles. My 2 neighbors on the other side of my property both use Fly Predators as well and this helps tremendously! To help with biting stable flies, I use the biting stable fly trap placed just outside my pasture in the sun set down at horse leg height on a wood dowel.

After all this, there will be nary a fly. Again with the brand recognition, there are cheaper products out there but, they too, come apart like Walmart coffee tables. I use Bye Bye Insects Fly & Mosquito Spray. It’s extremely humid in North Carolina but training and turning out in the sport of dressage is a must! I turnout in a Kool Coat white sheet with hood in the summer for the purpose of sun reflection in the low heat of early morning and late evening.

All of this sounds like tremendous amount of work, no? When I was at my North Carolina farm there’s a small garden, mini-orchard, 3 horses, 6 chickens, 2 dogs, 2 cats and a human with the production of rabbits and goats in the works AND I work full-time in writing and publishing. Therefore, it’s all about efficiency to run such an operation solo and making wise purchasing decisions when the end goal is sustainability. I can clean the 2 horse stable, prep feed & hay for the next 24 hours, refill waters, manage manure, and water newly planted fruit trees in under 25 minutes leaving me a good half hour lunch break allowing my mind to wander thinking about the next writing or development project before getting back to work.

I hope you find one, two or perhaps all of these options helpful to implement to your routine! Cheers!

Photo credit Mark J. Barrett.