Consider timing when applying fly tags

It’s the time of year when many cattlemen are gearing up for fly control. But don’t be to eager to stop flies before they really become a problem. According to Skip French with KMG Animal Health, tagging calves too early can lead to reduced performance in fly ear tags before flies really become a problem.

“The ‘let’s-get’er-done’ attitude of many cattlemen can backfire. By June when the fly season starts to hit its peak and fly populations get heavier, those tags applied in april have lost most of their effectiveness,” he says. French notes many brands of ear tags do not provide more than three months of fly control, however, some tags on the market have proven effectiveness  for more than five months. Therefore, product selection is important as well as timing the application of the tags.

According to French, the height of the fly season is late May/June in the Southeastern part of the country. By then, some tags applied in March and April have lost much of their effectiveness. “Elsewhere around the country where fly seasons don’t peak until late July and into August, producers who tagged as early as April don’t have much fly control remaining on a product that is effective for three months.”

The lack of fly control in later months not only results in more fly problems, but also reduced weaning weights, reduced sale weights, higher feed costs and lower milk production rates.

When selecting fly control measures, French says its important to consider your location, the time of year and the possibility (or lack thereof) to adjust your tagging times to relate to high fly populations. These factors can then help determine what products — with their specific duration — are the best fit for your needs.

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