Pest season takes flight as cattle owners combat fly
CATTLE owners are urged to consider how to manage the harmful impacts of buffalo flies, as ideal seasonal conditions favour numbers of the parasite across Queensland.
Buffalo flies are a major parasite and serious welfare concern to cattle across Northern Australia, as their bites cause severe irritation and cattle seek relief by switching their tails, moving about more and rubbing.
Hide damage is just one of the undesirable outcomes of this parasite.
The behavioural changes associated with cattle being irritated causes disruption to grazing, leading to reduced feed intake and productivity setbacks.
Outbreaks of dermatitis and pinkeye can also be attributed to the presence of buffalo flies.
Currently, chemical controls are the most effective method for managing buffalo flies.
Bayer Animal Health technical veterinarian Claire Hunt said it was important to use the chemical controls strategically as resistance to these can develop.
"Due to the limited chemical classes available to control buffalo flies, we have to be more mindful of what we are using and when," she said.
"We see too often the same chemicals used repeatedly within one season and from season to season."
Cattle owners should consider what chemical class was used in previous seasons, whether it is an organophosphate or synthetic pyrethroid treatment.
It is also helpful to know what buffalo fly treatments and controls your neighbours have used.
"Buffalo flies can travel up to 10km to seek out a host, so resistant flies can easily spread between properties, their short life cycle allows resistant populations to build up rapidly too," Dr Hunt said
Cattle owners are urged to use a short residual control such as a pour-on or spray, at the beginning and end of the buffalo fly season, whereas during the peak fly season they should use a longer acting ear tag to provide continuous cover.
Ear tag use is warranted when fly burdens exceed about 200 flies per head for beef.
Bayer recommends a four year rotation program integrating the use of organophosphate eartags for two seasons , a synthetic pyrethroid ear tag in year three, and then a macrocyclic lactone ear tag in year four during the peak fly season.
Double ear tags are recommended when higher frequencies of rainfall are predicted, and the slow release tags deliver an effective dose for the four month period.
It is important tags are removed from cattle at the end of their control period, to ensure flies aren't exposed to a sub-lethal dose, which may increase the risk of resistance developing.
Remember to keep a comprehensive record of what products you use each season to ensure that you are rotating effectively between chemical classes.
Speak to Northern Agriservices Kingaroy today about a suitable rotation plan for your cattle for the best management of buffalo flies.