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Lice: Not Today Heifer

Are your cattle showing signs of poor coat quality or hair loss? A lice infestation can cause cattle to relieve the irritation by rubbing, which results in poor coat quality and hair loss.

Can I get lice from my cows? No, lice are species specific, so there is no risk of transmission from your cattle to you or to other livestock. Your cows can, however, transmit the lice to other cattle through contact. If your cows are stabled together during the winter this can cause overcrowding which can increase the chances of transmission.

Is there a season for lice? Lice infestations are more common in late winter and early spring, and tend to decline in summer. Highland Cattle specifically have a thicker coat of hair which can make a great environment in the winter for lice to become well developed. The lack of nutrition in the winter, leading to a poorer diet, can lead to lice infestations because the cattle's natural defenses are decreased. As the diet improves in the spring and exposure to the sun and shorter hair during summer the lice infestation will recede significantly.

Why should you treat a lice infestation? Lice can cause damage to your cattle's coat and skin. The irritation from the lice can cause cattle to excessively rub the affected area, and also cause excessive licking. The excessive rubbing and licking can cause hair loss, hair loss could then lead to skin injuries and bacterial infections.

What is the optimal time for treatment of lice? Late fall to early winter is the best time to treat lice. It is important to try and treat the entire herd, not just those showing clinical symptoms.

What to use when treating lice? We use a ready-to-use pour on called Cydectin. There are many different applications and medications that can be used for lice treatment, you will need to do the research on what is the "best" option for you. I just know what works well for us, and that is Cydectin. Cydectin is a ready-to-use cattle wormer that controls roundworms, lungworms, grubs, lice, and mites in cattle. Some recommend alternating Cydectin with Ivermectin in order to reduce the chances of resistance to one product or the other. We have a cattle chute with a head gate (highly recommended even if you only own a few cows), we hang the Cydectin on the side of the chute,

and as we get the cow in the head gate we pour the medication along their back. Directions for dosing are located on the bottle. The medication can be expensive, so be sure to use and store properly in order to avoid wasting. You can find pour-on treatment in most of your local farm supply stores. The picture provided is not an advertisement, simply just an illustration of what the pour-on-application looks like.


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