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Home How and When to Treat Cattle Ticks

How and When to Treat Cattle Ticks

The best control is a program to reduce immature cattle tick numbers on the paddock. The following strategies can help to achieve this:

  • Planned treatments kill the egg laying female ticks by treating cattle for 4-5 consecutive tick life cycles depending on the length of the tick season. Treatment options are:
    • Plunge dip and race spray: give 5 treatments 18-21 days apart.
    • Pour-on: follow the instructions on the product label, for example give 5 treatments 21 days apart. Note that fluazuron pour-on is up to 3 treatments 42 days apart.
    • Injectable: follow the instructions on the product label, for example give 4 treatments 28 days apart. Note the exception for long acting moxidectin injection is 2 treatments 56 days apart.
  • Treatment timing: start with a spring treatment as tick numbers rise, and end with an autumn treatment to reduce egg numbers contaminating the pasture.
  • Identify and combine effective treatments: find out which chemical products will work on your farm by submitting ticks to a laboratory for resistance testing.
  • Use products with actives from different chemical groups to reduce the build-up of resistant tick populations.
  • Paddock ‘sweeper’ program. Place heifers and/or steers at a high stocking rate to attract ticks. Then treat the animals to prevent egg laying and relocate them to another paddock. The remaining low burden tick paddock can then be used for cows and calves, decreasing their need for chemical treatment.
  • Pasture or paddock spelling for 3 months in summer or 5 months in winter will reduce the number of seed ticks.
Figure 1. Female cattle tick laying eggs. Image courtesy of Diana Leemon.

Cattle tick can be challenging to control in Australia due to increasing chemical resistance, changes to land use, increased feral animal movements and limited availability of cattle dips. A solution to more effective tick control can be found by understanding weaknesses in the tick life cycle and implementing strategic treatments that reduce paddock contamination. Cattle tick control needs to focus not just on occasional removal of ticks from the cattle, but instead a well-planned program that aims to reduce future tick burdens by lowering the number of immature ticks in pasture. See also the section on moving cattle.

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