Stable flies, Stomoxys calcitrans (L.), are among the most damaging arthropod pests of cattle worldwide. The last estimate of their economic impact on United States cattle production was published 20 yr ago and placed losses at $608 million. Subsequently, several studies of effects of stable flies on beef cattle weight gain and feed efficiency have been published, and stable flies have become increasingly recognized as pests of cattle on pasture and range. We analyzed published studies and developed yield-loss functions to relate stable fly infestation levels to cattle productivity, and then estimated the economic impact of stable flies on cattle production in the United States. Four industry sectors were considered: dairy, cow-calf, pastured stockers, and feeder cattle. In studies reporting stable fly infestation levels of individual herds, median annual per animal production losses were estimated to be 139 kg of milk for dairy cows, and 6, 26, and 9 kg body weight for preweanling calves, pastured stockers, and feeder cattle, respectively. The 200,000 stable flies emerging from an average sized winter hay feeding site reduce annual milk production of 50 dairy cows by an estimated 890 kg and weight gain of 50 preweanling calves, stockers, or feeder cattle by 58, 680, or 84 kg. In 2009 dollars, the value of these losses would be $254, $132, $1,279, or $154, respectively. Using cattle inventories and average prices for 2005–2009, and median monthly infestation levels, national losses are estimated to be $360 million for dairy cattle, $358 million for cow-calf herds, $1,268 million for pastured cattle, and $226 million for cattle on feed, for a total impact to U.S. cattle industries of $2,211 million per year. Excluded from these estimates are effects of stable flies on feed conversion efficiency, animal breeding success, and effects of infested cattle on pasture and water quality. Additional research on the effects of stable flies on high-production dairy cows and nursing beef calves is needed to increase the reliability of the estimates.
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Vol. 49 • No. 1