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Controlling Cattle Lice

Hair loss on your cattle is a good indication they have a lice problem. The bites cause itching and irritation, so cattle rub, lick, and chew on themselves. This can cause damage to fence posts and other items they rub on for relief. Lice also affect performance. When the cattle are rubbing and scratching, they’re not eating or resting, which can cost a-quarter-to-a-half-pound of gain per-day.

Larry Hawkins is a technical services veterinarian with Bayer Animal Health. He says the key for control is to spread the lice treatment from withers to tail head with the gun set at half the dose.

"Go from the withers to mid-back, and then from the tail head to mid-back. That distributes the dose," says Hawkins. "A lot of these are low-dose products so it’s hard to start at the withers and get clear to the tail head. But, if we start at each end and come toward the middle, we get better distribution and better chance of lice control."

You may have to do another treatment a couple weeks later to kill any eggs that hatch. Another key is to not mix cattle together because lice are spread by animal-to-animal contact.

"If we keep them separated, not by just one fence but by at least two fences apart, or a temporary fence to isolate the treated ones, then we’ll experience a long duration of good louse control with that treatment," he says.

Hawkins recommends wearing an LED headlamp which is a great diagnostic tool when looking for lice. 

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