We have our milk cow and her calf living in a small corral while we work on fencing the new pasture. The poor creatures are plagued incessantly by a vicious population of small flies that suck the cows' blood and propagate in their dung. I thought maybe if I stick some chickens in there with them they will scratch through the dung and take out the fly larvae. Will this be an effective countermeasure, and what problems might I expect? Thanks for your input y'all
Every day, every season there is change, something new to observe, and constant learning. Permaculture has the dimensions of a life-oriented chess game, involving the elements, energy, and the dimensions of both life-forms and building structures (also with political, social, financial, and global implications).
Especially if the cows are in a corral the chickens will be great. Try feeding the cows some whole oats that can pass through to sweeten the "pie" for the chickens until they figure out there are maggots in there.
I like bantams the best for pest control; the ones we have are very self-sufficient.
When you let the cattle out into the pasture, if you worm them with ivomectin it will kill dung beetles, which would otherwise bury the manure as soon as it hits the ground - another way to deal with flies.
Years ago when I helped take care of a milk cow, we put turkeys in the same pasture. Not only did the turkeys scratch the cow pies completely away, looking for corn and maggots, but they also followed the cow around and picked off the big horseflies that tried to land on her! Eventually it got so that the cow would lie down and the turkeys would walk on her after the flies! I would imagine chickens or guineas would have done as well, but we wanted a place to keep the turkeys that was completely away from the chickens......
Alder Burns (adiantum)
This guy is skipping without a rope. At least, that's what this tiny ad said: