Composting Sheep Manure with Black Soldier Fly Larvae for Fly and Parasite Control

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer
Funds awarded in 2020: $13,263.00
Projected End Date: 04/30/2021
Grant Recipient: Vista View Farms
Region: Northeast
State: Maryland
Project Leader:
Andrew Keller
Vista View Farms


  • Animals: sheep


  • Animal Production: animal protection and health, grazing management, manure management, other, parasite control
  • Education and Training: demonstration, extension
  • Pest Management: biological control, competition
  • Production Systems: holistic management
  • Soil Management: composting

    Proposal summary:

    Sheep manure and used bedding are used by pests such as house flies (Musca domestica), blowflies (genus Lucilia), and parasites for larval development. House flies are important pests in livestock production systems; carrying disease transmitting organisms that affect humans and animals. Of all domestic animals, sheep are the most susceptible to flystrike, because their wool, particularly dirty wool attracts blowflies. Internal parasites are harbored in, and develop in feces. This grant has 4 objectives to study controlling larval development of pests and parasites biologically using black soldier flies:

    • Evaluate the ability of black soldier flies to compost sheep manure and bedding material under two barn conditions (dark sheet metal and white film high tunnel) in Maryland
    • Document the fly population in lambing barns with active black soldier fly composting bins to farms utilizing alternative fly management control (lime, pasture)
    • Analyze the residual compost material for fertilizer value compared to non-composted sheep manure and used bedding
    • Measure the fecal egg count of lambs pre- and post- exposure to black soldier fly compost applied clean pasture, and non-composted sheep manure and bedding material


    Outreach will be conducted through traditional publication and the production of instructional videos in collaboration with University of Maryland Extension. An article for the Wild and Wooly publication will be prepared describing each component of the study. Videos will also be used as a way to disseminate information using University of Maryland Extension social media accounts, and website platforms.  

    Project objectives from proposal:

    The questions are:

    • Can black soldier flies compost sheep manure and bedding material under two barn conditions (dark sheet metal/white film high tunnel) in Maryland?
    • Will the fly population in lambing barns with active black soldier fly composting bins be comparable to lambing barns utilizing alternative fly management control?
    • Will the compost volume be reduced and how will the nutrient value compare to non-composted sheep manure and used bedding?
    • When lambs graze on a clean pasture to which black soldier fly compost has been applied, will they have a higher fecal egg count than prior to grazing, and will it differ from lambs grazing on clean pasture to which no compost was applied. How will the egg counts compare to lambs grazing on pasture to which non-composted sheep manure and bedding is applied?

    If the project is successful, this model may be adapted by other farms. For fly prevention, this study may demonstrate fly control equivalent to other measures. Finding an effective way of treating parasite egg contained in manure and bedding will provide farmers a safe way of utilizing this material. Organic farmers and conventional farmers will likely welcome a non-chemical alternative to both of these serious threats to sheep.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.