Take action now for paralysis tick control
From the October 2011 edition of Agriculture Today.
North coast cattle owners are being urged to move calves to lowrisk paddocks for paralysis ticks following a spate of recent cattle deaths to the parasite.
“Producers can reduce the opportunity for their calves to pick up paralysis ticks from pasture now and avoid potentially devastating losses this spring and summer,” said NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) Regional Veterinary Officer, Paul Freeman.
“This approach revolves around identifying less scrubby paddocks that have a low population of native hosts, particularly bandicoots.
“Generally, these are low-risk paddocks for paralysis ticks and are more suitable for young calves.
“Treating cattle infested with paralysis ticks, particularly adult ticks, before they move onto these lowrisk paddocks is likely to keep the tick population on the pasture low.”
Mr Freeman said because dead grass or mulch provided ticks with a buffer against environmental extremes, pasture management strategies such as slashing that exposes free living stages of the tick to dry conditions and extreme temperatures will aid in their control.
“There are no chemicals available to treat pastures to kill free-living stages of the tick,” he said.
He said larger and older animals, particularly those with previous exposure to paralysis ticks, should be run in higher-risk paddocks, especially during spring and early summer.
Mr Freeman said a paralysis tick control program involving a range of strategies was needed.
Paralysis ticks were very difficult to control because:
- they are only attached to animals for a short period of about a week;
- each non-parasitic stage may survive for up to nine months on the ground;
- they can attach to native animals which cannot be treated with tickicide;
- currently registered tickicides are difficult to apply and only have minimal residual activity; and,
- calving time on the north coast coincides with the period of peak tick activity.
He said the three main approaches to controlling the problem in calves were:
- kill ticks on calves before they can inject a lethal dose of toxin
- reduce the opportunity for ticks to attach to calves, and
- reducing the susceptibility of calves to paralysis ticks.
“There is no one-size-fits-all solution that will be acceptable or practical for all cattle producers,” Mr Freeman said.
“However, there are a number of things that can be done and it is up to individuals to decide which of these they can apply to their enterprise.
For more detailed advice specific for a particular property producers are advised to talk to their private veterinarian or LHPA or NSW DPI veterinarian or Beef Cattle officer.