Cattle lice carry an economic cost

While it is not quite the same as having your child come home telling you they have head lice, having your cattle rubbing and scratching instead of eating and lying quietly can be annoying.
And our cold winter temperatures from November to March, with the accompanying increase in hair coat, creates an ideal environment for lice populations to thrive.
There are two types of lice, both of which are common to Canada. Sucking lice feed on the blood of infested cattle while chewing lice eat debris on the skin surface.
The actual economic cost of lice that results from decreased productivity is difficult to quantify. We know that lice make cattle itch—and producers want animals at the feedbunk, not standing around rubbing on posts and licking themselves.
In addition, animals trying to scratch may cause damage to equipment and facilities.
There is a fairly simple procedure to check if your cattle have lice. Take a good light and a comb and part the animal’s hair, looking for lice on the skin. The brisket, around the eyes, the muzzle, and along the back are prime locations to observe.
To quantify your problem, examine five areas, each about four inches long. If there were less than 10 lice in total, this would be considered a minimal infestation.
Ten to 50 lice in total would be a moderate infestation while over 50 is considered a heavy infestation.
What is the number that makes treating economical? While that question still remains, millions are spent every year on chemicals to control the pest.
Choose a product that has strong persistence when treating lice. The product application will kill all the adults. However, the eggs on the hair survive and hatch seven-14 days later, re-infesting the animal.
If the product has persistence or lasts that long, the new lice also will be killed, otherwise you have to re-treat.
Some other factors to consider are nutrition and environment. Cattle in excellent body condition will have a strong immune system response. Similarly, animals that are clean, well bedded, and dry are in an environment that minimizes damage or helps prevent lice infestations completely.
There is a genetic factor to lice infestation. Some animals become infested with lice but get it under control and never develop a problem again. Others seem to be resistant and never have problems with lice.
Still others, which are continually susceptible, are referred to as chronic animals and should be culled.

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