How to Ensure Pests Don't Wreak Havoc with Your Livestock's Health


Taking care of livestock is a full-time job. You may not clock in and out, but your whole life revolves around taking care of your animals and making sure they're healthy.

One of the most common issues that livestock farmers face is pest invasions. There are many different types of livestock pests, which makes it difficult to know exactly what to do about them. What you do to banish one pest may not affect any others.

To better protect your livestock and make sure that pests don't wreak havoc on them, read on to learn what you can do to be proactive. You and your livestock will be better off once the pests are taken care of.

1. Watch for Rodents

Where there are living beings and food, rodents will follow. They'll swarm livestock whether they spend most of their time out in the fields or in a barn.

Laying traditional traps may not be an option with other livestock around, especially if the rodents are all out in your fields.

Instead, look for where the most droppings are. That will tell you where they run to at the end of the day.

Every night, remove food from where your animals are to prevent the rodents from getting any more food. Then spend the next few days attaching tight wire mesh to fencing. This will keep the rats physically out of the area while you take care of the ones inside the fence.

2. Scrub Out Lice

Lice are a big pest issue, especially if your livestock include chickens. Lice like to hide in dark chicken coops and swarm the chickens at night while they sleep. After the lice have invaded, chickens scratch at themselves constantly and stop laying eggs. If you think lice may be the issue with your chickens, inspect them closely while they roost at night.

The solution for lice is simple. All you need is a good old fashioned 3-to-1 bleach mixture. Once the chickens are out of the coop in the morning, scrub it all down with this solution.

You can also dust the chickens with diatomaceous earth. This dirt is made of very fine crystals, which kill lice after application. There should be a noticeable difference in itching after application.

3. Get Ticks Under Control

Ticks will feed on any kind of livestock. They just need a warm body to survive, so they could affect any animals you take care of.

The trickiest part about ticks is their short life cycle. After they find a host and the air reaches the right level of humidity, they reproduce after only three feedings.

If one of your animals has ticks, there are most likely many more. You can look into medicated tick treatments, or simply mow the grass where your livestock spend the most time. Ticks need tall grass to climb up to jump on hosts, so short grass will make them move elsewhere.

4. Clean to Prevent Flies

Flies love to spend time around livestock because there's so much food for them there. If your livestock are constantly fighting off flies, it's a good idea to give them and their living space a good wash.

Rinse down any areas like chicken coops or barn stalls. Then rinse down your animals for even more protection. You can also put sticky fly traps on the walls around where your animals spend time, so the flies get trapped without your livestock accidental stepping or sitting on the traps.

5. Spray for Ants

Ants are always looking to bring food back to their homes, so areas with livestock are some of their favorite places. They'll carry away tiny bits of food and even build ant hills around your livestock.

The good news is that there's an all-natural solution for this too. A 1-to-1 white distilled vinegar solution will make ants run for the hills. They hate the acidity in vinegar, so it's effective and won't harm your livestock.

Just make sure that if you're spraying large sections of your land with this mixture that you rinse it off after a few hours. Livestock may be tempted to lick the vinegar sprayed areas, which may upset digestive tracts if they lick off too much of it.

6. Look Into Ear Tags

If you have cows that are swarmed with flies, they don't have a lot of options to fight back except by batting their tails. They're more easily bitten by flies and fleas, which is where ear tags come into play.

Insecticide ear tags can prevent pest infestations in cows. They're powerful enough to protect the entire body of a cow without ever harming them or introducing chemicals into their bloodstream. Tags are an effective way to control pests, so look into them if your cows have a major ongoing pest problem.

7. Add More Pests

It's a backwards way of thinking, but it could be the solution that saves your livestock. You can use pests to fight pests if you choose the right ones wisely.

Dung beetles specifically could change the game when it comes to pests. Many types of flies will stick around livestock because of the waste that's left over.

After you introduce dung beetles to your livestock, they'll take care of the extra waste problem while you continue your daily waste removal routine.

Dung beetles also won't harm any livestock because they're only interested in the excess waste. With less waste hanging around, you and your livestock will have a much more pleasant time without the added problem of flies.

Try New Solutions

You may have been taking care of livestock for a long time, without ever trying any of these solutions. If you take some time to try each of them out according to your specific pest problem, you could find that the solution is much more simple than you'd think.

There's no reason to go out and buy chemicals to introduce to your livestock just to make them more comfortable. Take care of pests in the easiest and most natural ways possible with things like dung beetle and white vinegar solutions. After a few days of treatment, you'll see what a difference these pest solutions will make on your farm. 

About the author: Emily is a sustainability writer and avid gardener. You can read more of her work on her site, Conservation Folks, where she writes about helping tomorrow’s planet today.