Since then I'm careful to check on each individual sheep daily. And if we get a rain period where their fleece stays soaked, I will shear them down to 1/2 inch of fuzz. Anything longer tends to draw the flies. And if I still see flies landing on the sheep, then I drag out the hose and dog shampoo. Everyone (including myself) gets a bath! Happily that doesn't happen often.
Plus I started a war on carrion eating flies. They are the buggers that attack the sheep. I don't know what species of flies they are, but there are a couple of different kinds. I tried a few things in the beginning that weren't very effective. Fly bait (golden malrin), store bought fly traps using a commercial lure, fly paper. I soon realized that I wasn't catching scads flies and I seemed to be catching the wrong ones. Duh, I was using the wrong bait! I needed something that smelled dead or dying, or like rotting sheep fleece.
I couldn't help but notice that a dead animal, be it a rat, mongoose, bird or whatever, quickly drew my target flies. And if that animal was cut open (for example, the cat chewed on it), it really, really attracted flesh eating flies. So I concluded the dead meat would be a better bait. So I sacrificed a piece of raw chicken breast to the fly trapping experiment. Guess what....it was a dud. So I next used a bit of beef steak. Another dud. Pork loin, yet another dud. What gives? I guess that commercial meat is too "clean" for the flies taste. So the next rat that the cats killed I wacked it up well with a machete and stuffed it into the fly trap. Success! The trap was crammed full of flies in one day.
|soda bottle trap baited with meat and water|
|only one entrance hole which gets covered with a cap|
Using two-liter soda bottles, I made lots of traps emulating the store trap design. They all worked but the wind tended to blow them over. I thought I might make something better. So I experimented.
My milk jug traps worked ok. But they were not as easy to empty and recharge with bait. Nor did they catch as many flies. So I wanted better.
|old cheese bottle & milk jug cap|
I tried clear plastic and glass jars. I tried holes in the lids, holes on the sides. They were very easy to empty and recharge, and stable so that the wind didn't blow them over. But they didn't catch as many flies as the soda bottles.
So I went back to the soda bottles. I solved the blowing over problem by just anchoring them well between three rocks. They are very easy to enpty and recharge, Using a slotted spoon, I can harvest the dead flies and drop them into the chicken food. And by far......real far......they are the best at catching lots of flies.
|milk jug with hole in the top|
Whenever the cats bless me with another dead rat, I use it to refresh the traps. Of if I am given a piece of fresh killed meat ( pig, mouflon, whatever) I will set aside some for the fly traps.
Each of my fly traps catches at least a cupful of flies on a sunny day. Since I live in a farming area, the fly population never deminishes. But since coming up with my current fly trap design, I no longer see lots of flies in the pastures. I still keep a close eye on my sheep, especially when it rains for more than two days in arow, but so far things have been fine. The flies appear to prefer the stinky traps over the wet