The February Livestock Health Monitoring Report is now available!
This report outlines various health issues seen in flocks and herds across Tasmania in February 2019.
February saw many cases of body lice in sheep, widespread throughout Tasmania. Sheep body lice (Bovicola ovis) can cause irritation to sheep and can also cause significant economic losses from damaged fleece, high treatment costs and limited sale opportunities. Signs of lice infestation include animals rubbing, biting and scratching.
To check for lice, part the wool a number of times where sheep are rubbed or matted or at least 10 times per side from the neck to the thigh. Lice are small (approximately 2mm long), have a reddish broad head and a pale white body. If you use glasses to read, use them when checking for lice. In sunlight, lice can be seen moving away from the exposed area and back into the wool.
Sheep body lice are controllable and preventable. If lice are found and it will be some time before they can be shorn and treated, a suppressive long-wool treatment can be used. Team should be aware of and abide by all wool handling and harvesting restrictions. If you have mobs which have different shearing and treatment times, make sure they are well separated from each other. Use up to date and current lice products and correct treatment technique for off-shears eradication when shorn. Complete regular muster and ensure good fencing. It is important to be aware that goats can also carry sheep lice.