Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Playful Steers

Fly control is a big issue on a farm with animals. Flies are not only a nuisance for all of us but they can transmit disease, cause painful bites, and adversely impact the health of the animals. So we do everything we can to control flies on Our Tiny Farm. It starts with good manure management. For the horses and donkeys, we pick up manure in the barn, paddock, and pasture almost daily and compost it. We break up any manure left in the pastures with a drag chain (see the post on this by clicking the label for "drag chain"). We use sticky fly strips in the barn. And we use fly predators; tiny wasps that destroy the pupae of flies in manure and other organic matter. The predators don't work on all flies, such as those nasty deer flies and horse flies, but they do control the most common flies that plague those of us who have livestock and horses. We buy our fly predators from Arbico Organics and have used them for many years. We receive a shipment every three to four weeks which is composed of one or two plastic bags full of sawdust and the pupae (little brown cocoons) of the predator wasps. We spread that around our farm at dusk, placing small amounts under the edge of manure piles, urine areas, and around manure and compost piles. They are a little pricey but they work for us, even though we have farms nearby that don't use them.

So, about the video. We were putting the fly predators in the cattle pasture recently and the steers wanted to play. I thought it was cute, so shot the video. That said, please don't think you can come out to Our Tiny Farm and play with the steers. They don't really understand "personal space" and there is always the risk that they will knock you down or run you over in their playfulness. Usually, we only enter the cattle pasture in pairs so one person can do whatever needs to be done and the other person, armed with a stick, can keep a close eye on the steers.

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