Ted got a new toy on his way home from work Monday. I mentioned to him over his vacation that I saw a fly repellent gun at the feed store last summer, but I hadn’t seen it since then. He was vaguely interested, but he didn’t seem to be paying much attention, and our conversation moved on to other farm things.
When we were in Tractor Supply on Father’s Day, a young couple came through, and we asked them about treatment for pinkeye in cattle when they said they have 400 head (FOUR HUNDRED CATTLE ON THEIR FARM – I CAN’T EVEN IMAGINE, BUT OHHHHHH……….WHAT A DREAM THAT WOULD BE!!!). They pointed us in the right direction, and then they mentioned a store called PBS (just like the tv station) about 70 miles from here. We couldn’t believe it; we’ve been in the Rural King right beside that store at least a hundred times and never even noticed that it was there! Ted decided he’d check it out the next day on his way home from work.
He did, and he is sold. He said they were knowledgeable, friendly, and very helpful. They didn’t try to sell him anything else for the pinkeye treatment because what we already had was exactly what they would have sold for it. He mentioned the fly problem on the girls (OMG – THE FLIES ARE RIDICULOUS IN THE PASTURE!!!), and they pointed him right to the fly repellent gun that I’d mentioned earlier last week! They showed him how to load it and use it.. He came home with it.
It is called “Vet Gun”. It has compressed air in the bottom that powers it, and it takes little round squishy balls (similar in shape and feel to dishwasher detergent squares). Those squishy balls are shot out of the gun (one per cow) into the shoulder area, and they splat and spread out (much like flea medicine on dogs is how I took it to work). They get applied every month, and they are safe for both meat and dairy cattle. The way they work is the repellent goes through the body, and when flies land on the cow patties (cow poo), their life cycle is disrupted because the eggs can’t hatch/live in the poo.
I have been very iffy on using anything like this, and we have tried to go as natural as possible with all of our animals. No livestock has ever gotten antibiotics for anything (there’s never been a need), and we never EVER spray any kind of weed killer/glyphosate anywhere at all. I don’t even use ant killer in the spring when the little ants come in (instead, we use a mix of Borax and powdered sugar to make a little paste to get rid of them). There is just no getting the cattle away from those flies though, and they are really becoming a horrible nuisance for our girls (this year seems especially bad); flies can drink up to a pint of blood a day from a cow, and that can be dangerous to their health. We have tried three different home remedies, and they’ve provided no relief, so we just made a command decision and went with this.
Ted went down the hill and “shot” each of the cattle once. He said they looked at him and moved about four feet away from him, and then they came right straight back to eat their grain. It didn’t bother them at all, and he said they only seemed to move because of the noise it makes (it is a really loud *POP* each time). My fingers are crossed that this works; we won’t be able to tell for about a month, but by then we should see a large decrease in the fly population near the barn and pasture (where the girls hang out in the field). I’ll report back to let you know if it seems to be working or not!