For all tick-borne diseases it is prudent to prevent ticks from attaching themselves to your animals.

For large herds and flocks the common method of prevention is through immersion in a medicated solution in a dipping tank, or by wetting the animal overall in a spray-race. Such facilities are, however, not warranted for a smaller number of animals, for which injectible vaccines, pour-on and sprayon preventative measures are more cost-effective. Few smallholders will keep enough livestock to justify the expense of building a concrete dip or spray race.

Hand spraying, mostly using a knapsack sprayer is the cheapest way of applying parasiticides to all kinds of livestock. Most products available for plunge dipping, spray races and power spraying are available for hand spraying as well, just in small packs of 10 to 50 ml, enough to fill one or two knapsack sprayers once they have been diluted. Each animal must be treated thoroughly until it is completely wet, including the udders, the belly, below the tail, etc.

Theoretically two to five litres (depending on the animal’s size and the hair coat) of spray wash are needed for each sheep, goat, horse or cow and one litre for each pig. Do not spray a whole group of animals at a time, as they will not get full coverage of the spray. Hand spraying is quite wasteful of the acaricide.

Pour-on formulations of acaricides consist of a high quality oil which spreads through the greasy hair coat of livestock. It contains typically 1% of the active ingredient of the acaricide. An adjusted amount of the pour-on is applied according to the weight of the animal. Pour-on formulations are expensive to buy but there is no wastage and they can be cheaper per animal in the long term.

Oily formulations can be applied as selective spot-on treatments. Similarly, if an acaricide is formulated in a grease then ears and other sites can be treated. It would help if you are able to construct a crush, which is a kind of cage, in which the animal can be restrained while you administer the pour on treatment. How often you apply acaricide depends on the species of tick and the livestock that you keep. Too many applications of acaricide can lead to the ticks becoming immune to the treatment, while not enough can lead to poor condition or even loss of your animals. Strategic treatment is a system that uses ecological knowledge of the seasonal cycle of ticks.

Get advice from a livestock veterinarian in your area. You also need to look at the pasture management. Holistic parasite management must also include how you manage the grazing. In order to decrease the parasite load in the pasture, we need to reduce the length of stay in a pasture, by rotating amongst camps. Ticks do not survive for long on pasture that is either heavily grazed and thus short and dry, or in areas where pasture land is rotated with crops.

When intensively farmed land is fenced, it is possible for cattle pastures to be cleared of ticks, by a combination of management and acaricide use, and then maintained tick free. Burning of pasture grasses kills many ticks but should only be used when the main reason is to improve grazing availability. You might also need to spray the pens where the livestock are kept at night.

This is part two in a series on ticks. For more, click here.

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