Livestock Environmental Issues Committee
Includes representation from UNL, Nebraska Department
of Environmental Quality, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Natural
Resources Districts, Center for Rural Affairs, Nebraska Cattlemen, USDA
Ag Research Services, and Nebraska Pork Producers Association.
Learn how to prevent manure from becoming a nuisance.
218 LW Chase Hall
University of NE
Lincoln, NE 68583
Manure- Nutrient or Nuisance
UNL West Central Research & Extension Center
Manure, if handled properly can be an asset for crop production.
If handled improperly, manure can become a liability and the subject of
a lawsuit. Many nuisance lawsuits list odors, dust, and flies together
as components in the suit.
Cattle manure in a pasture setting provides a habitat for 35-40 species
of insects. Horn flies and face flies are the most notable inhabitants
of the pasture manure because of their pest status with animals.
But there are many other species that feed on the manure (recycle) or are
predators and parasites of insects that use manure for development.
In a confined animal setting, manure is quickly adulterated with soil and
moisture and becomes the developmental medium for another complex of insects;
although some species of insects overlap and are present in either pasture
or confined livestock manure. The major pests of confined livestock
manure are the house fly and the stable fly. The house fly can complete
it's life cycle from egg to adult in about two weeks during summer months.
The stable fly requires an additional week to complete it's life cycle.
Their life cycles are similar and are comprised of eggs, larvae (maggots),
pupae, and adults. Both species have high reproductive rates of 200-800
eggs per female. This factor, combined with short life cycles, may
result in very high fly population levels particularly during wet years.
The economics of the house fly in terms of livestock production is unclear.
House flies are known to be vectors of several diseases of man and animals
but do not appear to directly affect animal production. They are,
however, important from the standpoint of lawsuits.
Stable flies feed on animal blood and, in so doing, inflict a painful bite
as they inject their mouthparts into the skin. Animals react to attack
by stable flies by bunching with each animal attempting to protect it's
front legs. Losses in feedlot cattle weight gain of as much as 0.48
lbs/animal/day have been recorded. Research indicates about 70% of
the decrease in weight gain is the result of heat stress induced by the
bunching behavior and 30% is due to blood loss and energy loss from fighting
Common manure accumulation areas at confined livestock units that result
in high fly populations have been identified. Trapping flies in some
of these areas have resulted in catches of more than 8,000 flies per square
meter of manure, soil and moisture mixture such as found adjacent to feeding
aprons. Other major areas that are often major fly breeding sources
include: 1) under fence lines, 2) next to feedbunks, 3) along leaky
waterers, 4) drainage areas along pen mounds, 5) drainage areas away form
the pens, 6) debris basins, 7) around feeding racks at dairies, 8) in and
around calf hutches, 9) in and around loafing sheds, and 10) silage and
haylage drainage areas. Inside confined livestock units may have
fly breeding occurring in the pits if the material is allowed to crust
and in the corners of the pit if these areas aren't cleaned.
There may be considerable fly breeding at stored manure sites if the manure
isn't stacked and packed in a manner which prevents water penetration.
Covering the manure with black plastic will prevent problems. Manure
spread on cropland may provide a fly-breeding area if the material isn't
incorporated into the soil prior to rain.
A successful fly control program requires good manure management, strict
sanitation and, generally, some use of insecticides. The most commonly
used insecticides are space sprays applied through a mist blower.
The small insecticide droplets are circulated through the fly-infested
area by the blower and flies are killed after contact by the insecticide
droplet. Some research indicates that the small wasp fly-pupal parasites
available commercially may be effective. We haven't experienced that
success with our research. However, neither the insecticides not
the parasites have a chance of being successful unless good manure management
and sanitation is practiced.
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