The east coast saw the first face fly in North America in 1952. The pests spread quickly across America by the 60’s bringing with it pink eye. Other pests plaguing cattle were mosquitoes, horn flies, stable flies, lice and ticks. Luckily Joe Lewis was developing a solution. He invented the cattle oiler while observing cattle on his own farm. Joe noticed cattle naturally scratch and rub on broken trees laying at 45° to the ground more than anything else. The configuration appeared to allow them to scratch most of their body.
Insects were causing stress, spreading disease and reducing gains in cattle herds. The Lewis Cattle Oiler was born out of the necessity for an easier and more effective pest control. Joe’s new self-treatment system was much easier than running cattle through chutes and dip tanks.
Original Lewis Cattle Oiler
In 1966 Joe rented a small shop and manufactured the first Lewis Cattle Oiler. To hold the insecticide, he used a canvas-protected cotton wick wrapped around a chain. To give the cattle something to scratch on and protect the wick, he enclosed his oiler in a 3-chain harness.
The cattle oiler was about 5 ½’ long, and hand-oiled in early models. The cattleman fastened one end to a tree and the other to a stakein the ground. As the cattle rubbed themselves, the wick would compress against the center chain. The insecticide would squeeze out and rub into the cattle’s coat. Cattlemen could now effectively control livestock pests without putting any stress on their cattle.
Free-Standing Lewis Cattle Oiler
Realizing that not all pastures have trees, Joe next designed a free-standing model. He combated the older model’s tendency to waste pesticide by adding a 5 gallon reservoir with an on-off valve. Every few days the valve needed to be opened for a few minutes to recharge the wick.
Lewis Cattle Oiler Automation
By the end of the 60’s Joe’s customers were asking if he could build an automatic oiler. Other oilers on the market used gravity feed leaving them over-saturated or bone-dry from a lack of fluid regulation. One drip per second adds up to 1 gallon in 6 hours. At this rate, a 5 gallon reservoir is bone dry in less that a day and a half.
As a result, in 1969 Joe developed an automated pump system that kept the wick charged without dripping from over-saturation. It had easy adjustments that allowed the wick to recharge with the amount needed.