With the advent of Monsoon, the ever so notorious flies throng in large numbers disturbing peace not just for us humans but also for Cattle. They don’t just fly around and spread filth; they bite and suck blood, acting as vectors; spreading diseases and lay eggs that turn to flesh eating maggots.
Cattle have a distinct smell and flies get attracted to it. Three main attack prone areas are the neck, the head and the udder area. In Kerala when it starts raining it goes on and on for days at a stretch and most people avoid taking Cattle out, which in turn makes the cow shed dirty, attracting more flies. Hence keeping Cattle and their shed clean is very important.
If your cattle are of an indigenous breed they will lick and clean the area and swat the flies away with their tail, tongue, and rear legs. Indigenous zebu cattle have very sensitive skin and they will swat flies away as soon as they land on their body, however if your cow is hybrid they usually lack sensation and hardly react to fly or mosquito bites. However even with zebu cattle there are areas that lack sensation e.g. the nipples, usually after milking.
Most of the chemicals and herbal medicine prove ineffective in controlling the flies. Even if they do work, most of them are a deadly combination of chemicals or herbs, which will most probably land in the cow’s intestine. Flies also develop resistance to chemicals and to my surprise even neem oil proved ineffective to keep flies away (May be the neem oil I used was of poor quality).
So the best way is to keep flies away. Flies find it difficult to see in smoke, so they immediately leave the spot.
Some Natural Remedies to keep flies away from Cattle
Below are some of the effective natural ways to keep flies and pest away.
1)Home made Herbal Mixture: You can create an effective herbal mixture and tie it on the cows to keep the flies away(Ingredients needed – RAW turmeric, neem oil, vacha root(vayampe), charcoal – coconut shell is preferred).
Grind all the above into a mixture, add neem oil and make a paste. Then roll it in a coconut leaf ball or some other porous material and tie it on your cows. Small variety of vacha(vayampe) should be preferred and not the bigger variety which is commercially available in ayurvedic stores nowadays. If vacha is in dried form, soak it in water before grinding. This mixture is very effective in keeping flies away for more than a month.
2)Soothika marun enna: The oil left after preparing the soothika marun (medicine) can be stored for a few years and can be liberally applied on any fly bite areas. It is also very effective in keeping flies away. It is also good for worm or bacteria bites normally caused during monsoon.
(soothika marun is a special medicine given to lactating mothers – similar to chavanprayash, very effective for lactating mothers, it is extremely effective for back pain and other issues related to women health post pregnancy and overall health).
3) Topical Herbal Cream: You can apply any topical cream like scavon or himax on the udder area which will keep flies away while grazing.
4)Cow Dung Smoke: Since the last few years experience I found smoke the best option to keep flies and other pesky pest away from my cattle.
Road side fruit vendors have traditionally used dhoop(large thick charcoal based incense) to keep flies away. It generates smoke and fragrance for some time.
But when you own cattle why buy dhoop or other expensive incense.
The smoke generated from burning dung keeps flies, mosquitoes and other pest away. It can be smoked for 8 to 10 hours at a stretch. You can also keep the smoke going on for a much longer period provided you keep adding a piece of dried dung and fresh dung at 2 to 3 hours interval. Practice will make you perfect.
Smoke generated using Dried Cow dung
List of things required.
- Zebu cattle fresh semi solid dung and dried dung(Runny dung will not work).
- Dried good quality coconut husk is the best for starting the smoke.
- Mud or copper vessel.
- Lighter to ignite the fire.
This is how I create dung smoke for my cattle. Fresh and dried cow dung, mud vessel and coconut husk for generating smoke.
At the base add some fresh cow dung. This will be the source for next days dried dung.
Now add coconut husk along with dried cow dung and lit the husk.
Now add some more fresh cow dung at the top of burning coconut husk to keep the smoke on for a long time. You can keep adding fresh dung after some time to keep the smoke going on for a much longer time. Fresh dung takes time to become dry and then it burns it is a slow process so the smoke keeps going on for a long time.
It was considered very essential in ancient times to create smoke for cattle with herbs during rainy season. This can also be used at home because smoke from cow dung has a pleasant smoke unlike burning firewood. It is easy on your respiratory system. You will not feel suffocated when inhaling this smoke.