Flystrike in farm animals

Portrait of a Wiltshire horn sheep © Andrew Forsyth / RSPCA Photolibrary

Flystrike is a painful, sometimes fatal, condition caused by flies laying eggs on another animal, which hatch into maggots and eat their 'hosts' flesh.

If an animal becomes infested, seek immediate veterinary advice.

Which farm animals are most at risk?

Farm animals with dirty rear ends or generally dirty fleece are particularly at risk. This may occur in animals which:

  • are unable to clean themselves properly
  • are ill, they may produce abnormally smelly urine or have diarrhoea
  • are fed inappropriate diets
  • have internal parasitic infection
  • have open wound(s).

Even clean, well-kept animals can get flystrike

Preventing flystrike in farm animals

Flystrike can occur in hours. Toxic shock and death can result very quickly.

Speak to your vet about the best way of reducing the risk of flystrike before warmer weather starts between April and October.

Prevention methods include:

  • Frequent and thorough inspection of all animals, especially around the rear end.
  • Shearing the animals to remove wool/long hair around rear ends.
  • Plunge dipping of sheep in accordance with appropriate guidelines.
  • Use of appropriate spray/'pour-on' treatments.
  • Reducing the number of flies, e.g. by removing faeces and soiled bedding quickly.
  • Ensuring animals are healthy and not suffering from conditions that might attract flies.
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