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The Life of Joplin - Blowflies Strike


"Hey man, can I help you with something?"

Our first birth on the farm was three weeks ago. It was the adorable little Joplin. We haven't written about her much since then. With the beef cows there's just not that much action. For Janis (Joplin's mom) and Corrina, it's just eat grass, chew cud, drink water, move to a new paddock, and repeat. Joplin's basically the same, just throw in some quality time on the udder. The cows are easy and I love them for it. One strand of hot wire keeps 'em fenced in. Fresh grass and water keeps 'em happy. And I don't have a whole lot to worry about. 

Joplin's first few weeks have been largely uneventful, except for her first three days. Joplin encountered exactly what we feared: "flystrike", or Myiasis, a product of the blowflies. The blowflies took advantage of Joplin. Right on her wet spots. The two wet spots on the rear end. I was worried about it, so I checked everyday. On her third day I lifted up her tail, spread her legs and a handful of maggots crawled out. Disgusting. Also scary. Poor Joplin looked perfectly happy and healthy on the outside, but something was eating her alive.

So what did we do? We saved her life with a spray that we got from a neighbor. We gave her butt a buzz-cut and hosed it down.

It felt weird using a chemical. We don't use chemicals for anything around here. Diatomaceous earth, lime, neem oil, and other organic remedies are our first choice. 

But what do you do when you have a three day old calf that was born in the middle of the summer (through no fault of yours, or hers) and of course she's getting attacked by blowflies? Leave her there and let her fight it off on her own, or die? With the huge amount of maggots I saw crawling out of her she wasn't going to last very long. 

We made the choice to save her and we killed the maggots with an insecticide. I thought about it for maybe ten seconds. It wasn't much of a dilemma in my mind. 

What would you do? Stick with nature or use the insecticide?


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