By Jennifer Woolwine

5 Techniques to Reduce Flies on your Farm


baghdad to barnyard

March 17, 2021



Spring has sprung in Virginia, meaning summer will be here before we know it. It gets hot and muggy in Southwest Virginia, and flies are our number one nuisance. Nothing irritates me more than seeing the animals uncomfortable and stomping their hooves because of flies. Flies spread disease not only among your livestock but to humans as well. All farms can relate to fly control, so I wanted to share five techniques to reduce the flies on your farm. 


Manure management

Manure is the prime breeding ground for flies. This includes wet bedding, old hay, animal droppings, wet manure, old grain, compost, etc. You want to keep your stalls clean with fresh bedding each day to reduce flies.

We clean our stalls in the morning and evening and pick up any manure in the pastures close to the barn. Twenty minutes a day spent on manure management makes it much easier to maintain, and it is a lot less headache for us.

We use pine sawdust year-round in all our stalls. It is easy to clean up, drains well, and costs $10 a truckload at our local lumber mill. It would help if you moved all manure piles away from your barn or run-in sheds. We have two manure piles 250 yards away from our barns. We cover them with tarps to help break down all the old hay, sawdust, and manure, and we turn the piles every few weeks. Other options are raking manure or using a drag chain harrow to spread manure out in pastures.


Fly Predators

This will be our third summer using fly predators, and we noticed a massive difference in the fly population last summer, especially with horseflies. Fly predators look like ants with wings. They lay their eggs in fly pupae and eliminate flies before they hatch. They are harmless to people or animals and do not bite or sting.

We buy our fly predators through Spalding Labs. Their calculator will help to determine how many fly predators you need based on your land size and the number of animals you have. You will receive your order in the mail, and when you start to see the fly predators hatching, you release them in your manure/compost piles. You will want to order SOON as it is something you must do every month in the summer. We remove fly predators once a month from mid-to-late March until October.


Homemade Fly Spray

One of my favorite #farmhers to follow on Instagram is Angela at @axeandroothomestead. She provides holistic and eco-friendly tips and I have learned much from her. I knew I had to share her all-natural fly spray recipe for equines. I have tried several do-it-yourself fly sprays, and this is the best! It is so easy to make, and it works.





essential oils.png



Ingredient List:

4 cups apple cider vinegar

1/8 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons of M-T-G (You can purchase Mane-Tail-Groom on and most feed stores)

2 tablespoons of unscented dish soap

Mix 20 drops of lavender essential oil

Add 20 drops of rosemary essential oil

Use 20 drops of peppermint essential oil (You can also use lavender, citronella, pine, and thyme).



Mix all the ingredients and pour them into a new weed sprayer or spray bottle; shake well and spray! For best results, spray your equines twice a day. This is the ONLY fly spray I can use on Annie and Rocky, which were once feral. The mixture of essential oils calms them, and they don’t run for the hills like other sprays with chemicals.


Install fans in your barn

We added ceiling fans last summer, and it not only decreased the temperatures in the stalls but drastically reduced flies as well. Circulating air makes it difficult for flies to land and keeps the animals cooler in muggy summers. We have ceiling fans and box fans in each stall. The animals will stand in front of the fans all day in the summer.


Reusable Fly traps

We use several types of fly traps that we hang outside each stall. We use disposable fly bags by Rescue; you can buy them in bulk on Amazon. They attract a ton of flies but fill up fast. Finding the best solution to reduce flies on your farm will take some time. It depends on the size of your farm, location, and climate. Unfortunately, no single fly control program can eliminate flies from your barn, pasture area, and animals. However, using the tips in this blog post and creating a fly management program for your farm can help reduce the population. Not only will you have a happy barnyard, but your animals will be healthier too!


Best of luck, and if you have any tips or tricks with fly management that I didn’t list, please share them in the comments.

xo, jen


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Jen Woolwine       Author

Jen is a combat veteran and wife who is passionate about animal rescue, homesteading, and mental health advocacy. Jen's amazing journey of transitioning from military service to homesteading can be followed on her blog and social media platforms @baghdadtobarnyard.

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