Friday, May 17, 2024
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Farm Hack Fly Traps

I recently joined the Regenerative Grazing Group Facebook page. Participants share information and ask questions about what’s going on in their pastures and help each other think about how we can all be better grazing managers. If you’re a facebooker, you can check it out. In the meantime, I asked if I could share this great fly management hack I found there. I got the thumbs up from the group administrator, so here you go. Thanks to Chris Hollen, Loran Shallenberger and everyone else in the group for getting this information out there!

Here’s Loran Shallenberger’s version of the Chris Hollen model fly trap.

What you’re looking at is a barrel wrapped in fly paper. Here’s what it looked like 24 hours later:

Click to check it out online. It’s also available on Amazon, but at a higher price.

The fly paper Loran uses comes in a $7.49 roll from Tractor Supply. He wraps it around some metal drums he had laying around. Then he places them across the fence from the waterers. As he says, “Cows take a drink, flies get caught.”

Kevin Swalley did this last year and provides these instructions for setting up your barrels: “Its only sticky on one side. Just make a wrap around the barrel and overlap the ends a little to stick the paper back to itself. I just started wrapping over the old paper with the new. A sharp knife will cut through it to throw it away.”

Kevin says that he caught face flies, horse flies and deer flies. The chickens would eat every fly they could reach on the paper. He also found that “there were more flies toward the top of the barrel every time. So I just started flipping the barrel upside down. It seemed to do the best at waste level to chest high on me.”

When the topic first came up in the group, Kevin says that most folks kept the barrels outside the fence so that cows wouldn’t get stuck to it. He started moving it with the cows and didn’t have any trouble with cows touching it. He even wrapped some trees and fence posts with the fly paper.

Here’s Another Option

Michael Kinsey shared this video from Kevin Jahnke has a seasonal dairy farm in Lancaster, Wisconsin. He builds these blue barrels that use a smelly attractant to draw the flies into the barrel. He cuts a hole in the top of the barrel and covers it with clear plastic making a window of light that the flies go towards so that they don’t find their way back out. He empties the barrels from time to time. The last time he did it he filled a 5-gallon bucket and estimates he got about a million flies.

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Kathy Voth
Kathy Voth
I am the founder, editor and publisher of On Pasture, now retired. My career spanned 40 years of finding creative solutions to problems, and sharing ideas with people that encouraged them to work together and try new things. From figuring out how to teach livestock to eat weeds, to teaching range management to high schoolers, outdoor ed graduation camping trips with fifty 6th graders at a time, building firebreaks with a 130-goat herd, developing the signs and interpretation for the Storm King Fourteen Memorial trail, receiving the Conservation Service Award for my work building the 150-mile mountain bike trail from Grand Junction, Colorado to Moab, Utah...well, the list is long so I'll stop with, I've had a great time and I'm very grateful.


  1. This may sound antiquated, but if we’re moving to more holistic farming methods, what about having chickens in with the cattle or following the cattle?

    I know it’s easier said than done, but definitely something to contemplate for animal and soil health.

    • Chickens only do so much, and that’s only for certain species of fly (those that lay in the manure). There’s still the issues of (a) first flies in the season, (b) all the ones that will fly in from neighboring lands, and (c) those that chickens aren’t really going to be able to intercept as various life stages.
      And mechanical traps and sticky paper are surely more holistic than insecticides on the animals and environment.

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