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Flies on Compost pile - what to do?

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  • Flies on Compost pile - what to do?

    I talked on this forum early ths winter about composting my 11 stalls waste. All was great until about 2 weeks ago when I noticed all the flies all over the farm. We have been here 15 years with little to no problem with flies when we spread in neighboring woods and had fly systems in the barns.
    I started composting near the barn this winter and have someone come get it (from the ground) weekly.....and am just turning on the systems (spary is ordered but not here yet). I also just ordered fly predators to put around it. I can't use feed through as it's an organic farmer who gets and uses the compost.
    Does anyone else have this problem? I was told it wouldnt be one! However it's been a crazy year weatherwise with lots of rain. Perhaps that is playing a part. ... help!!!
    www.flyingcolorsfarm.comHome of pinto stallion Claim to Fame and his homozygous son, Counterclaim. Friend us on Facebook!https://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Fl...04678589573428

  • #2
    You were told that a manure pile wouldn't attract flies? Hmmm, I think whoever told you that was smoking something that I haven't smoked for a very many years. Horses poop, flies completely cover poop in the field. Why would a large pile of poop be any different? Once it has composted for a significant amount of time the flies give up on it, just like they do on dried poop in the field, but if you are cleaning 11 stalls regularly and someone is constantly taking it away, so your pile is always a fresh pile of poo - I would hazard a guess that you going to constantly have a whopping big fly pile.


    • #3
      have you been turning your pile? If not, that might be why you have a fly problem.

      Personally I don't have a fly problem but my pile also gets added to every day and has more than just poo/shavings in it. If I .were. worried about it, the top of the pile would become the bottom of an alternate pile every few days.


      • #4
        In order to compost, the manure has to be turned often enough to keep it breaking down. Hot stuff inside brought up to the outside. Keeping it semi-moist helps. As does shade. (a roof or having it in the woods)

        But an easy trick to reduce or eliminate flies...fill a spray bottle with white vinegar and hang it on your wheelbarrow. Everytime yoou dump a new load, spray the heck out of it with vinegar. Flies can;t breed in vinegar soaked anything.
        You jump in the saddle,
        Hold onto the bridle!
        Jump in the line!


        • #5
          I rake up the uneaten hay from the paddocks and spread it on top of my compost piles. no flies.
          Being terrible at something is the first step to being truly great at it. Struggle is the evidence of progress.


          • #6
            It doesn't sound as if you have a composting system.

            It sounds as if you have a manure pile. That's not the same thing.

            Manure piles attract flies.

            With composting you add different types of organic matter, lime, leaves, you turn it, cook it down, turn it, cook it down - it takes a long time. It does not attract flies. That's one of the advantages, as is the black soil that results.

            If a farmer is removing your manure pile weekly you're better off just piling it and covering it with a tarp, using vinegar, lime and hang fly traps.

            If you want to compost the manure - you have to design a composting system that works for your farm. You should not have a fly problem with a good composting system. Or even an ok system.

            The amount of rain you're getting may be a factor in your fly problem, but your manure pile should be covered. If your manure pile is soaking wet it's nothing more than a giant seething mess of liquified organic matter. Perfect breeding ground for flies.
            Brothers and sisters, I bid you beware
            Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.
            -Rudyard Kipling


            • #7
              I cover the compost piles with a layer of mature compost (from our motherlode compost pile that's been sitting for years). It looks tidy and lets the rest of the family know that pile is "done" in terms of adding to it.

              I've been experimenting this year - making smaller piles at intervals along the pasture fencelines over the winter, sealing them over with mature compost in the spring, so that when they're mature I can just drag the compost out across the field. The first one I started has already turned to black compost and I've just dragged it out.

              We use fly predators and no matter what I do, it seems to take about 6 weeks for the fly population in the spring to get under control. We get them every 3 weeks, and once they kick in, things get much better. I got them earlier this year but we also had a big warm-up even earlier, so the flies once again got a head start.

              Tax return money is going to buy an O2 compost system. Mobile, so I can use it where I need the compost as we don't have a tractor and moving it around is a pain.


              • Original Poster

                It is removed weekly to become a true compost pile elsewhere....so what's the difference in turning it weekly here or there? It is hot in the middle when we remove it. It does have hay in it, but not ON it each day. With 11 stalls, it is a fairly big pile......a lot to turn every few days.
                I was told by others on this BB that it would not attract flies....I recognize some of these posters from my previous inquiries......I'm sure several remember me too. I asked a lot of questions.
                We're removing it tomorrow.then I'll be sure the tarp stays on and try the vinegar too..
                I just broke my arm so can't drive the tracyor which is complicating things!
                www.flyingcolorsfarm.comHome of pinto stallion Claim to Fame and his homozygous son, Counterclaim. Friend us on Facebook!https://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Fl...04678589573428


                • #9
                  Composting in this weather is quite a lot of work--it is pretty much fly heaven right now with warm (but not too hot) temperatures and decent rainfall. I have to turn my piles twice a week in this weather if I want to keep the stuff cooking nicely and not just sitting there looking and acting like, well, horse crap.

                  The up-side is that composting can progress at a furious rate with the moderate temperatures and decent moisture levels. My piles right now are so hot in the middle that the edges of the turds and even large clumps of hay are gray ash, crumbling to dust when exposed. But if I leave it for a week, the amount of really hot stuff falls off and the process slows down.

                  Flies and fly predators can't breed if the temperature is too hot. They do their business only in the top layer of the pile. By turning it regularly (the life cycle of stable flies is what, seven days?) you take the eggs, larvae, and pupae that are in the outer layer and bury them where it gets very hot, cooking them before they emerge. The stuff you've brought up from the depths is no longer as hospitable because it has also changed into something quite different from fresh poop.

                  Obviously it's not a 100% solution. I am a fanatical composter and I use feed-through and I still have some flies, but not very many. The ones I do have tend to be the non-poop-breeding kind which are sort of seasonal: black flies that pester their ears in May, deer flies and horse flies in the height of summer, etc. Nothing I can do about those via the manure pile, just fly masks for the black fly season (mercifully short) and bloodsucker traps for the biters.
                  Click here before you buy.


                  • #10
                    What you need is a team of fly eating chickens.
                    ::Sometimes you have to burn a few bridges to keep the crazies from following you::


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by florida foxhunter View Post
                      It is removed weekly to become a true compost pile elsewhere....so what's the difference in turning it weekly here or there? It is hot in the middle when we remove it.
                      Frankly, if you're having the pile removed each week you're better off treating it like you would a trash can. Just pile it, keep it very well covered, and clean up any wet areas or bits of mess around it.

                      You see, you're not really composting it. It's just a manure pile. Even though it's starting to heat up inside, the exterior is still fresh but decaying organic matter - so it's going to attract flies.

                      So your choice (from what you've described), is to create a proper composting system - which means following the instructions given to you in the previous thread, or just treat the pile like you do your weekly trash pickup.

                      You can't have it both ways. You're not composting it so you can't expect the pile to act like a composting system.

                      Composting is a science and requires effort. You have to destroy pathogens, eggs/larvae, tprevent firefang, and it requires certain temperatures, moisture levels, turning, a certain amount of carbon - and most of all.... time. Lots of time.

                      I'm sorry that you broke your arm and I hope you heal soon! Good luck.
                      Brothers and sisters, I bid you beware
                      Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.
                      -Rudyard Kipling


                      • #12
                        flies are attracted to fresh manure, which is why poo piles in the pasture are covered. As Jswan says, you have a giant 11 stall poo pile- a literal fly condominium if you will- near your barn. Not a good plan!

                        I compost my manure 20 feet from my barn and 50 feet from my house and have no fly problem. I also don't have to turn my pile much- about once a month with the tractor- takes 5 minutes. But I add lime to it as I dump in the stall cleanings as well as household compost.

                        The vinegar idea is a good one. The thing MUST be covered for so many reasons. get a black tarp and the sun will bake those fly larvae, for one. Fly traps work but they are hideous to have to clean out and reload and a big disposal mess if you get the disposable ones- they'd fill up quickly in your situation.The chicken idea is a good one too, but chooks bring their own set of problems and require more care.
                        "The Threat of Internet Ignorance: ... we are witnessing the rise of an age of equestrian disinformation, one where a trusting public can graze on nonsense packaged to look like fact."-LRG-AF


                        • #13
                          It's counter intuitive but a clear plastic sheet will heat up the compost better than a black one.
                          I wasn't always a Smurf
                          Penmerryl's Sophie RIDSH
                          "I ain't as good as I once was but I'm as good once as I ever was"
                          The ignore list is my friend. It takes 2 to argue.


                          • Original Poster

                            Husband got me a big blue tarp which covers it all and fly preditors are in the mail. Would a concrete floor under it help? Checked around and can't find my own used dump trailer which would have solved my flooring problem. Need to solve this or go back to manure spreader and pelleted straw...upping barn costs about $400 per month..ugh!! My pastures are looking so good, I hate dumping spreader in them again! My system worked beautifully till it got to be spring, hot and wet all at once!

                            How many have concrete under piles rather than dirt?
                            www.flyingcolorsfarm.comHome of pinto stallion Claim to Fame and his homozygous son, Counterclaim. Friend us on Facebook!https://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Fl...04678589573428


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by SmartAlex View Post
                              What you need is a team of fly eating chickens.
                              That, or ducks or guniea fowl.


                              • #16
                                I'm greatly honoured when a pheasant visits ours, but he's not exactly a regular,
                                and I wonder if he's actually picking grain out.
                                Proud member of People Who Hate to Kill Wildlife clique


                                • #17
                                  I have crushed concrete under my manure bunkers. It was put in by a professional excavator and tamped down REALLY well, but if I'm careless with the tractor I can still tear it up. But it's fairly solid and more or less impervious and MUCH nicer than the muck I had to start with.

                                  JB, what is firefang?
                                  Click here before you buy.


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by deltawave View Post

                                    JB, what is firefang?

                                    You talking to me?

                                    Cool word, isn't it. It's a sign your compost is too dry or you're neglecting your compost pile. Well... it's not a bad thing if you're growing mushrooms and you'll see the flecks of white across the top of the pile. Mushroom growers like to see firefang I guess - not into growing mushrooms so I'm not sure.

                                    But if you're seeing big hunks of material with this fungus on it you're not composting properly (for our purposes). You see firefang in manure piles which have just been left to rot by themselves.

                                    The OP has a manure pile which is removed weekly so it's not really applicable to her.

                                    It's a fungus and I think it begins with an A but... can't remember.
                                    Brothers and sisters, I bid you beware
                                    Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.
                                    -Rudyard Kipling


                                    • #19
                                      Sorry, got your last name wrong, JSwan.

                                      Firefang sounds like something my son would invent as the star of one of his monster stories.

                                      I have seen the stuff you're referring to and yes, it's usually when I've neglected the pile for a little while.
                                      Click here before you buy.


                                      • #20
                                        no flies - huge pile

                                        I can't explain it. Best farm for no flies ever. Pile is 100 ft from the barn. I do flip it but only once a month if that. I am moving it because it is ugly but I like to keep it as it makes great compost. I just bought a dump trailer and am hoping to sell it to suburbanites! I think I have about 80 yards @ $25 haha