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“Paintball Gun” Helps Treat Cattle For Flies
Treating cattle for fly prevention was actually kind of fun this year, says Mike Galloway, who used a VetGun for the first time. From the comfort of his side-by-side ATV, he drove around shooting his beef cows with insecticide gel capsules from what looks like a paintball gun.
Flies were abundant this summer and the cattle were in a pasture 5 miles from the corrals on his Gillette, Wyo., ranch. Galloway used fly bags in the past, but they were expensive and didn’t seem effective for the whole herd as some cows “hogged” them up and kept other cows away.
“It just came down to efficiency and how we could get fly control done without bringing them all home,” he says. “I bought the VetGun 2 years ago. It was an impulse buy.”
The flies weren’t a big problem the last couple of years, but this summer brought hordes of houseflies, horseflies and horn flies. While cows get some protection from their calves’ ear tags rubbing on them, it wasn’t enough. So, in June he tried out the VetGun for the first time.
Directions suggest putting out feed and dry firing the gun a few times to keep the cattle distracted and used to the sound of the gun.
“Who has time for that?” Galloway asks, noting he just started shooting each cow, aiming for the shoulder. The recommended distance is 15 to 30-ft., but 15 ft. seemed a little close and he was successful up to about 50 ft. away.
“I didn’t miss once. It’s easy to fire and aims pretty well, although there’s a little lob,” he says. With less than half the velocity of a standard paintball gun, cows sometimes jumped and ran a little distance, but that was it. Plus, they weren’t skittish when he returned with the VetGun a couple days later to finish the job.
Galloway learned from a couple of mistakes. First, do the whole herd at one time. The soft gel capsules that break and splatter on the cattle leave a lightly colored area, but it doesn’t last long. So, Galloway didn’t know which cows were treated the first time, so he ended up treating them again.
Secondly, he didn’t remove the CO2 cartridge between applications and air drained out, so it was empty.
The VetGun sells for around $250 online, and the insecticide-filled capsules cost about $2 each.
“If you have a bad fly year and you are having trouble, this is a direct treatment that works. But it’s expensive,” Galloway says. “The big thing is profitability, and you have to determine if it’s worthwhile to make money.” Cows and calves that aren’t fighting flies or disease from flies should eat more and gain weight to justify the cost.
He notes that something was working - maybe a combination of calves’ ear tags and the capsules - because he didn’t see swarms of flies hanging around the cows like they were around the (untreated) bulls he brought in later.
Ranching for about a decade, Galloway and his wife, Erin, appreciate the importance of spending money wisely and diversification. They make and sell jerky and other products, have an Airbnb and RV parking, host ranch events and tell their story through their YouTube channel. Search for Our Wyoming Life and then Fly Control on the Ranch to see Galloway shooting his cows.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Our Wyoming Life, Mike and Erin Galloway, P.O. Box 667, Gillette, Wyo. 82717 (mike@ourwyominglife.com; www.ourwyominglife.com).

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2021 - Volume #45, Issue #5