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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Economic impact of stable flies (Diptera: Muscidae) on dairy and beef cattle production

item Taylor, David - Dave
item Moon, Roger
item Mark, Darrell

Submitted to: Journal of Medical Entomology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/23/2011
Publication Date: 1/18/2012
Publication URL:
Citation: Taylor, D.B., Moon, R.D., Mark, D.R. 2012. Economic impact of stable flies (Diptera: Muscidae) on dairy and beef cattle production. Journal of Medical Entomology. 49(1):198-209. DOI: HTTP://DX.DOI.ORG/10.1603/ME10050.

Interpretive Summary: Stable flies are pests of humans and livestock throughout the world. Their painful bites reduce milk production in dairy cows, weight gain in beef cattle and reduce the ability of cattle to convert feed to meat. Although methods exist to reduce stable fly populations and their impact on cattle, they are expensive and labor intensive. Producers need to balance the cost of controlling stable flies against the cost of their damage. In this study, we developed a model to estimate the economic impact of stable flies on cattle production systems in the United States. Based upon the assumption that stable flies are present above the economic impact level for 3 months of the year and that during that period the average density on cattle is 5 flies per front leg, we estimate the economic impact on the cattle industry to be $872 million for dairy production, $113 million for cow / calf production, $1,262 million for pastured cattle, and $197 million for cattle on feed for a total of $2,444 million. This makes stable flies the most damaging arthropod pest of cattle in the United States.

Technical Abstract: Stable flies, Stomoxys calcitrans (L.), are among the most important arthropod pests of cattle worldwide. The most recent detailed estimate of the economic impact of stable flies on cattle production, $608 million, was published in 1992. Subsequently, several studies on the impact of stable flies on weight gain and feed efficiency in cattle have been published and stable flies have become increasingly recognized as important pests of pasture and range cattle. In this study, we analyzed published literature and developed an explicit and dynamic model to evaluate the economic impact of stable flies on cattle production. Four classes of production are considered, dairy, cow / calf, pastured and range stockers, and animals on feed. Cattle inventories for January 2009 and 2008 average prices were used with an average stable fly infestation of 5 flies per leg for 3 months of the year. We estimate the impact of stable flies on dairy production to be $872 million, cow / calf $113 million, pasture and rangeland stockers $1,262 million, and animals on feed $197 million for a total impact of $2,444 million. Excluded from this analysis is the impact of stable flies on breeding cattle and the environmental effects of cattle on pasture and water quality due to stable fly avoidance behaviors. Additional research, especially on the effects of stable flies on pre-weaning calves and high-production dairy cows is needed to increase the reliability of these estimates.

Last Modified: 06/23/2017
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