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7 Fly Prevention Strategies for Pig Farms

Rowan Burgess |

With the fly season approaching, many pig farmers will soon focus on fly prevention strategies. There is no single definitive method for keeping a fly population at bay. Different strategies will work best in specific situations, and many can be combined to ensure you cover all your bases.  

Effective Fly Prevention Strategies for Pig Farms

We will go through seven of the most effective fly prevention strategies that are proven to work on pig farms. Still, it’s certainly worth remembering that these can be combined, and specific strategies make sense at different stages of the year. 

1. Adult and Larval Monitoring

Before considering an appropriate strategy, you must know what you’re dealing with. We’d recommend conducting a detailed survey of your premises to gauge the fly level of the fly problem, with adults representing the current problem and larval, which is the next generation. It’s also advisable to keep this information year in and year out to make future planning easier as patterns emerge.  

Adult flies will typically rest on structural surfaces within buildings, and you can draw several 1m x 1m square boxes and then count the resting flies within. This will give you a rough idea of whether populations are going up or down. Measuring larval is far less appealing, with the best way being to scrape off the top 2 - 5 cm layer of a 30cm x 30cm sq manure pile and count the larval from there. These tests should be done twice weekly between May and October.   

2. Manure Management

Staying with manure - dealing with waste can make all the difference to fly control on pig farms. As manure piles up and the temperature slowly rises, flies find it an irresistible spot. Ideally, manure should be removed daily, but this brown gold certainly has its value. Pig farmers who also have crops can spread it on their fields, sell or donate it, though in most cases, it does require a careful storage & treatment plan.  

Having a concise plan is essential because, to put it bluntly, pigs defecate a lot. A medium-sized pig weighing around 50kg will produce roughly 720 kilograms of manure yearly. Multiply that across the entire farm, and that’s a lot of waste.

3. Daily Fallen Stock Removal

One of the inevitable factors of any farm is death. Fallen stock must be removed daily and disposed of correctly according to government guidelines. This means it has to be collected by an approved transporter, identified, and removed from the farm as quickly as possible. 

Decaying carcasses left on a farm will attract flies in substantial numbers and raise the risk of spreading disease. 

4. Daily Feed Spillage Clean-up

Keeping a pig farm clean is difficult, but doing so is an excellent fly control strategy. Spillages should be cleaned up daily when they occur, but cutting down on the spillages themselves is also vital. Spilt feed costs a significant amount of money and deprives pigs of some of their food - which can even lead to gastric ulcers in severe cases. 

Spills not cleaned up properly, which often fall into hard-to-reach areas, will quickly attract flies and can go noticed for weeks. If you’re experiencing regular spills, check your feeders and repair or readjust where necessary. This should reduce the frequency of spillage, but continue to monitor daily.       

5. Adequate Ventilation

Our list’s most straightforward strategy is ensuring adequate ventilation through your pig farm. We wish it were as simple as just opening the door and a few windows. Still, large pig farms will typically need dedicated ventilation systems to provide the optimal living conditions for swine. A good system will pump fresh air into a building while removing stale air that continues microbes, dust, harmful gases, and water vapour.

Not only does this mean more content pigs, but it can also dramatically reduce the number of flies. A poorly ventilated building will experience higher temperatures and levels of condensation, both heavenly to flies. It also promotes moisture removal from manure and other areas that might attract fly breeding.   

6. Physical Fly Control

Physical fly control methods are often a good course of action in the early stages or with more minor infestations. They usually require less time than the proactive chemical control methods we’ll deal with last. Electric fly killers, fly glue rolls and fly traps all operate similarly by attracting flies and dispatching them through different means. 

Each is reasonably priced and can deliver impressive results over time, though you may want to purchase a few to make sure. As mentioned, these methods won’t be appropriate for more significant buildings, and by attracting flies into a building and towards a trap, you may inadvertently worsen the situation. 

Fly screens have become popular options for physical fly control. They can be attached to the outside buildings over air vents or other entry points, preventing flies from entering. Most pig farms these days employ this method, but only some farmers would consider it full-proof. It helps but requires other strategies alongside it.

Smoke bombs are another method that shows excellent results. Unlike the traps, rolls, and electric killers, the smoke from the bombs will slowly but surely reach every corner of the building. The larger the building, the more you may need, but they are hugely effective for smaller locations.  

7. Proactive Chemical Control

With larger infestations or on bigger farms, you might have little option but to use proactive chemicals. These are the fastest and most effective ways of tackling a significant fly problem. Using them requires specific training, and you’ll need to keep a detailed record of the process in case of a government inspection. 

Powerful insecticides and larvicides are preventative measures, with the latter focusing exclusively on the larval stage, while adulticides are usually more reactive and used in a targeted manner. 

Insecticides and larvicides can be delivered in a spray but are common with fogging, where a building is emptied and then filled with a dense white fog via a fogging machine. The facility must be closed for 2-3 hours before being well-ventilated. These solutions work incredibly quickly and have a devastating knockdown rate.       

Adulticides are what you turn to when adult flies have overrun a building. It won’t attack larvae already in place but will undoubtedly take a significant chunk out of the adult population. Typically used with an atomiser or compression spray, and need to be directed directly at the flies. You can also use smaller versions in spray cans, which are suitable for targeting small numbers but inappropriate for more extensive areas.    

Final Thoughts

Controlling a fly problem is neither easy nor straightforward. It requires plenty of time and dedication, often doing the jobs you wish you weren’t doing. However, not doing it and simply hoping the problem clears up is just asking for trouble. Fly infestation can devastate pig farms, and it’s in everybody's best interest to get well ahead of the problem.   

Dalton offers various fly control products to help you hold back the tide and eventually win the war. It isn’t easy, but nothing worthwhile ever is.