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A recent MLA research project has estimated that cattle ticks cost Australian farms around $156 million per year in production losses and treatment costs.
Cattle ticks are amongst the most economically damaging of parasites and, if left unchecked, they can significantly reduce cattle live-weight gain and conception rates.
Cattle ticks are also responsible for transmitting tick fever, which causes a loss of condition, illness and in severe cases even death.
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, such as in Spring, is a more effective control strategy.
Ticks spend approximately 21 days feeding on the animal before falling off to lay eggs. A strategic tick program should prevent ticks laying eggs onto pasture for as long as possible.
Unfortunately, the majority of registered products have relatively short protection claims against cattle tick. Even newer chemicals such as fluazuron have developed resistance in many tick areas of Australia. This resistance is seen as a shortened protection period.
Beef producers like Richard Cox, who runs “Cracow Station” 60km south east of Theodore in Queensland, are discovering new ways to fight back. Owning and managing 26,000 acres with 5000 head of cattle, including 1600 breeders and 1300 mixed breed and Droughtmaster cross, his 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,” Mr Cox explained.
“(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,” Mr Cox 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, Mr Cox began a treatment program using Virbac’s Cydectin Long Acting Injection for Cattle.
The treatment is effective against sensitive strains of the parasites like cattle ticks, mites and lice, as well as internal parasites like Barber’s pole, small brown stomach worm, lung worm, hook worm and whip worm.
Thanks to a unique formulation, it prolongs the release of moxidectin, providing a higher plasma concentration of moxidectin for longer and the results of recent trials indicate big gains for farmers who use Cydectin Long Acting to treat tick-prone cattle.
A pen trial conducted in Queensland found that Cydectin Long Acting prevented the development of viable cattle ticks for at least 51 days, and suppressed egg laying for at least 65 days.
Additionally, field trials across 10 farms found that on average, cattle treated with Cydectin Long Acting Injection gained an extra eight kilograms (10.5 per cent) compared with those treated with doramectin injectable. There is no known resistance in cattle ticks to the active ingredient in Cydectin LA.
In an added bonus, Cydectin Long Acting Injection has no known effect on dung beetles, as demonstrated in a trial that showed no impact on larvae or adult beetle emergence, which means it contributes to cleaner pastures without impacting the role of this important agricultural ecosystem. And, that was certainly the case for Mr Cox.
“Our paddocks have never been cleaner,” he said.
“We’ve actually been able to reduce treatment, and in some paddocks, Cydectin has been so effective that we haven’t seen a tick, or had to treat in two years.”
As its name hints, persistence and potency is something else Mr Cox has noticed since introducing Cydectin Long Acting.
“In some paddocks I would say my animals remain tick free for close to three months. Our worm burden has been brought right down since we introduced Cydectin Long Acting. We’re also using it in conjunction with Multimin to top up trace minerals and we’ve definitely noticed improved weight gain in our weaners, irrespective of season. They tend to have a cleaner coat, and they generally look much healthier. We’ve done trials ourselves, and the results all show increased weight gain since we started,” he explained.
“The combination of Cydectin Long Acting and Multimin has certainly paid for itself. If you look at the impact of ticks and worms, and the costs in terms of production losses, the effectiveness and longevity of Cydectin Long Acting makes it a no-brainer for producers like me.”
For Virbac Technical Services Manager Matt Ball, the approaching change of season means producers should begin thinking now about a cattle tick management program.
“It’s a good idea to have a plan in place sooner rather than later. Cattle producers should brace themselves for another bumper year for cattle ticks,” Dr Ball said.
“By understanding the problem and the best disease-control strategy, they’ll be better placed to implement the right management practices to minimise risk and maximise the health and profitability of their herd.”
Farmers are encouraged to talk to their local rural supplier and find out why there’s nothing like Cydectin Long Acting Injection for Cattle. For more information, visit au.virbac.com.
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