Don’t Turn a Blind Eye to Blind Quarters

Published on Fri, 04/20/2018 - 2:52pm

 Don’t Turn a Blind Eye to Blind Quarters 

  Article courtesy of Central Life Sciences 

 Flies are a nuisance to dairy cows, but they also present some serious health and productivity risks. With house and face flies acting as the most prevalent fly in confined situations, they pester animals and employees alike. The house fly alone is implicated in the transmission of over 65 diseases organisms while the face fly is also a known vector for disease. One great concern of every dairy operator is the possibility of spreading diseases such as mastitis, a disease that can lead to the development of blind quarters in the udder, reducing milk production even more. However, with the right plan in place, these numbers can be significantly limited.

The Problem
Dairy operators know that protecting cows and their operation from any potential threats is essential to remaining profitable and productive.

Dr. Stephen C. Nickerson, professor at the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, states that 75% of heifers have some kind of teat or udder infection before they calve, with bacteria spread by flies accounting for 50% of those infections. Flies are a vector for disease and bacteria, including Staph. aureus, the primary cause of mastitis. A fly infestation, especially in a confined situation, presents the opportunity for disease to widely spread throughout the herd.

If mastitis has developed in the heifer as the result of fly bites, it could lead to blind quarters in the udder and limit the cow’s milk production.

The Impact
Mastitis in cows can impact the operation in multiple ways, with the decrease in future milk production being the greatest concern. It can also lead to the loss of milk that is produced due to contamination, and require additional time and costs to treat.

Flies are a known vector for mastitis-causing bacteria in confined situations, spreading the destructive disease throughout the herd. House flies spread the bacteria with their mouthparts and feet, feeding on fresh manure and warm decaying organic matter with their sponging type mouthparts. Feeding on secretions around a cattle’s eyes, nose and mouth, face flies are slightly larger than house flies and lay their eggs in fresh manure.  

When teats become irritated from flies, the bacteria enter the teat and move upward into the quarter, destroying milk-producing tissue. The destruction of this tissue eventually leads to blind quarters in the udder. Once bacteria starts to multiply, these nuisance flies can facilitate transmission into the udder and to other heifers in the herd — significantly reducing milk yields by as much as 50%.
These pests move around the teat and travel from animal to animal, carrying the bacteria along with them.
The Solution
By including ClariFly® Larvicide to your herd’s feed and ClariFly® Add-Pack to your calves’ whole milk or milk replacer, operators can control fly populations and help prevent the spread of mastitis and the resulting blind quarters. ClariFly® Larvicide works by interrupting the fly’s life cycle, rather than through direct toxicity. When mixed into feed, ClariFly® Larvicide passes through the digestive system and into the manure. With only very small concentrations, ClariFly® Larvicide is able to disrupt the normal molting process of the fly larvae. The mode of action of ClariFly® Larvicide is specific to insects. It disrupts the production of a substance called chitin, a key component of an insect’s exoskeleton that is not found in mammals. Without a properly formed exoskeleton, the immature fly cannot survive to adulthood.

Dairy operators know full well the damaging impact that flies can have on the comfort and profitability of cattle. By implementing a comprehensive integrated pest management program established around ClariFly® Larvicide, operators can keep dairy cows healthy and productive now and for generations to come.