Spring­ing into tick strat­egy

Central and North Rural Weekly - - HORSES FOR COURSES -

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.”

PHOTO: CON­TRIB­UTED

TICK RISK: Drought­mas­ter cat­tle in ticky coun­try.

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