Sheep Lice in Australia

LICE CONTROL – WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?

Approximately 70% of sheep that have lice this year could expect to have lice next year

The body louse or biting louse (Bovicola ovis) is the most prevalent and economically important species of louse found on sheep in Australia.

Copyright NSW Department of Primary Industries
Copyright NSW Department of Primary Industries

The body louse feeds on skin debris and wool grease. The heaviest concentration of body lice is found along the sides of the sheep, from neck to flank. Body lice can also be found in the neck folds and shoulder areas.

Sheep infested with the body louse will attempt to alleviate the irritation caused by their presence by scratching, rubbing, biting and pulling at their wool.

This results in:

  • Cotted (matted) fleeces
  • Fleece discolouration (yellowing)
  • Fleece derangement
  • Cockle (pelt defect which downgrades the value of the hide)
  • Reduced appetite and body condition

It is important that a lice control program is implemented to reduce these production losses associated with lice infestation.

Lousy Sheep Behaviour
Sheep Lice are a major problem to the Australian Sheep Industry causing losses of up to $123M/year. Sheep infested with lice will attempt to alleviate the irritation caused by their presence by scratching, rubbing, biting and pulling at their wool. This footage demonstrates the classic behaviour exhibited by sheep infested with lice.
 
 
For further information on sheep lice click on the following links to be taken to the most up to date information

 

1) Lice Boss 
Lice Boss is a decision support system which can help woolgrowers control lice more effectively, minimise pesticide residues and reduce the cost of lice control.
www.wool.com/Liceboss

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