Springing into tick strategy
A RECENT Meat and Livestock Australia research project estimated cattle ticks cost Australian farms around $156 million a year in production losses and treatment costs.
Peak sales of cattle tick products often occur in summer/autumn when cattle producers see heavy tick burdens. With each female tick laying up to 3000 eggs, beginning a control program earlier could be a more effective control strategy, strategically preventing ticks laying eggs onto pasture for a longer time.
Richard Cox, ownermanager of the 26,000-acre Cracow Station, southeast of Theodore, in Queensland, runs 5000 head of cattle, including droughtmaster cross and mixed breed. The property has been particularly susceptible to tick infestation.
“In this area, it’s pretty much a given that cattle will have a tick issue, as well as worms. We did some dung sampling and worm counts, and soon realised that we need to treat for these parasites,” he said.
With a change in season from winter to spring, the problem often escalates.
“We tend to find that these parasites are seasonal – but up here, we need to stay on top of this problem through most of the year.”
Seasonal change isn’t the only trigger for parasite prevalence.
“If cattle are light, the weather is dry, or animals are calving, everything attacks them. The parasite burden increases when an animal doesn’t have its usual ability to fight them,” Richard said.
With cattle tick control often aimed at preventing the ‘spring rise’, a strategic treatment program can be started from early September.
Following a recommendation by a fellow beef producer, two years ago Richard began a treatment program.
“Our paddocks have never been cleaner,” he said.
“We’ve actually been able to reduce treatment. In some paddocks, Cydectin has been so effective that we haven’t seen a tick, or had to treat in two years.”
TICK RISK: Droughtmaster cattle in ticky country.