Sunday, May 2, 2010

Fly Relief for the Four Footed Friends

As spring marches along, the warmer weather is accompanied by an increase in the number of flies, biting insects, and other little nasties that bother the sheep, goats, donkeys and llamas.  I feel bad for them when I see them swatting with their ears, stamping their feet, and swishing tails (although the sheep haven't really got tails to swish).  This morning, I saw this type of activity was widespread, and when I walked down to check for lambs (no, there weren't any), I was also being pestered by flying insects.  Time to get out the magic mixture.  Aurora and Olwyn, our March BFL lambs, agree.

I thought I'd share the recipe for the magic mixture on the blog, because I think others might like to try it.  I prefer using this recipe to using other commercial fly products because I think it's better for the animals and it doesn't have any unpleasant ingredients in it that I wouldn't be comfortable using on myself.  That said, it works surprisingly well, and has no negative side effects on the sheep's fleece either.  It's also a lot cheaper than most of the commercial fly products.

Homemade Animal Fly Repellent Spray
12 oz water
12 oz vinegar (I use regular white pickling vinegar)
4 oz "Skin So Soft" bath oil from Avon
1 oz Citronella oil
Mix all and shake well in a spray bottle - that's all!

The "Skin So Soft" bath oil from Avon comes in a 24 oz bottle for $16.99 but it's often on sale for $9.99.  That means it makes 6 batches of the spray at $1.67 per batch.  The citronella oil should NOT be the kind for refills of citronella lamps, etc.  It should be the food grade essential oil.  I buy it on Amazon for $4.49 for a one ounce bottle, and to be honest, I often use just half the bottle per batch, and it seems to work just as well.  (If that link ceases to work, it's "Now Foods" brand, but there are lots of other brands of food grade citronella oil too.)  I wouldn't use cider vinegar or other "sweet" smelling vinegars in case they ended up actually attracting flies.  Horton says "I don't want any flies on me!"

It is easiest to use if you get the animals distracted by some yummy grain or other treat, and then just walk along behind them with a misting spray bottle, and they don't really notice.  I do try to mist around the back of their necks and the mist seems to settle around their faces without distressing them.  After misting everybody this morning, I noticed an immediate, significant reduction in flies.  It does need to be re-applied after heavy rain or when you notice flies getting bad again, but I'm happy with the way it works on my flock, and I like the fact that the ingredients are so simple and I can pronounce all of them!


Mom L said...

Good morning, Claire! The new little guy is a darling.

I had to chuckle at one of your ingredients - Skin So Soft! That was a necessary part of hiking gear in Georgia!! Great for mosquitos, gnats, etc.


Louise said...

A lot of people just use the skin so soft, mixed 50 X 50 with water, for horses. Your mixture sounds well worth a try.

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Well, where have you been?! My blog list hasn't been updating and it seems I've missed quite bit!

Spring is marching on, eh?
Well, here, I think it's marching backwards! It's snowing like a wild hare and is basically a white-out here today! Brrr!
Well, at least we have no biting insects. lol!

I'll remember this recipe for later on in our summer....about August....when I can be sure the snow will have stopped! lol!

Love the adorable ears on your BLF lambs :)


Lola Nova said...

Great to see photos of all your little ones! I was gonna say pretty much what Mom L said about your mixture being good for mosquitoes as well.

Do you have any suggestions for a broody hen? We have a gal that wont move off the nest and as we have no rooster...I've been taking her off the nest and putting her out of the coop with the other hens a couple times a day, also taking her off and letting her out in the yard by herself. I'm making sure she's eating, drinking and relieving herself. She sits even when there are no eggs, it also seems to have slowed the other hens laying. Any ideas? Thanks!

Chai Chai said...

Thank you for the recipe, we will give it a try.

Flartus said...

Hmm...might be worth mixing up a batch of that for us humans. Thanks for sharing! Might even be nice to use on Rosie; she sometimes carries her own cloud of gnats.

Love the pics of the babies.

polly's path said...

I am so glad you posted the recipe. We have started having problems with biting flies and I hate using toxic, chemical stuff on my babies.
I will try it out asap!

Jennie C. said...

I've got the skin so soft. Now to acquire the citronella oil! I'm really, really hoping that it helps, because the flies are really, really bad this year. :-(