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Face flies ( Musca autumnalis De Geer) and the behavior of grazing beef cattle

By C. T. Dougherty, F. W. Knapp, P. B. Burrus, D. C. Willis, N. W. Bradley

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Zero, 400 or 800 laboratory-reared adult face flies (Musca autumnalis De Geer), which had been deprived of nutrients and water for 12 h, were released in large (5 m x 5 m x 2 m) screened enclosures each containing one tethered adult Angus beef cow (Bos taurus) grazing tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea Schreb. cultivar 'Johnstone'.) At the start of grazing, the herbage dry matter (DM) mass of the vegetative sward was 3861 kg/ha, sward surface was at 21 cm and the pseudostem surface plane was at 6 cm. The herbage DM allowance was 1.4 kg/100 kg/h. Surfaces of the heads of grazing cows supported about 30 alighted face flies. In addition, 20 and 30 flies alighted on the backs of cows grazing in the presence of 400 and 800 face flies per enclosure, respectively. Few face flies were present on other body surfaces. Heads of cows moved 0.0, 1.0 and 0.7/min in response to the activity of 0, 400 and 800 face flies per cow, respectively. Movements of other parts of the body were also recorded. Rates of herbage DM intake increased linearly from 1.69 to 2.91 kg per cow/h (0.37-0.59 kg/100 kg/h) as the numbers of face flies increased up to 800 per cow, largely because herbage DM intakes per bite increased from 0.74 to 1.36 g. Rates of biting in grazing cows (37 bites/min) and the time spent at feeding stations (19 s per station) were not affected by face flies. It was concluded that cows grazed deeper into the sward in an attempt to dislodge face flies from the muzzle and this resulted in heavier bites and, consequently, higher rates of herbage intake.

Date 1993
Publication Title Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume 35
Issue 4
Pages 313-326
ISBN/ISSN 0168-1591
Language English
Author Address Department of Agronomy, Univeristy of Kentucky, Lexington, KY 40546-0091, USA.
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal behavior
  2. Animal diseases
  3. Arthropods
  4. Bites and stings
  5. Cattle
  6. Developed countries
  7. Feeding behavior
  8. Flies
  9. Grazing
  10. Insects
  11. Invertebrates
  12. Kentucky
  13. Mammals
  14. North America
  15. OECD countries
  16. Parasites
  17. pastures
  18. peer-reviewed
  19. Stress
  20. United States of America
  1. peer-reviewed