With the coming of cool to colder weather, producers can expect an increase in lice populations on their cattle. According to Dr. Jim Neel, University of Tennessee Extension beef cattle specialist, lice reproduce very rapidly as the weather cools and will peak during late February and early March.
 
“The added lice population will result in reduced weight gain in cattle and reduced milk production as well as unthrifty appearance and an increased susceptibility to health problems,” said Neel.
 
Neel goes on to calculate that the increase in the parasite can have significant costs to producers. “If the effects of lice can be conservatively assumed to be $5.00 per head of cattle, the total loss to the state’s beef industry would add up to $10 million or approximately $225 to $250 per Tennessee beef producer,” Neel said.

The expert does have some good news for producers. “Lice are the easiest parasites to control. Lice spend their life cycle on the host animal. Therefore they can be controlled with a ‘pour on’ or a systemic insecticide. There are several available that are specifically for treatment of lice.” He cautions, however, that producers should not use a systemic control that also controls grubs if the cattle were not treated for grubs prior to November 1.

Neel says cattle that are experiencing nutritional deficiency and are in a poor body condition will suffer the most from lice. This would include old cows, young calves and replacement heifers, he says.
 
For more details about how producers can manage their cattle for maximum profits, contact your county UT Extension agent or visit the UT Extension publications web page online at https://utextension.tennessee.edu/publications. Most publications are available for free. Additional information may also be available at the national extension web site: http://www.extension.org

You may also access publications and information through your local county UT Extension office. Addresses and phone numbers are available in your local telephone book, usually in the local government section.
 
UT Extension provides a gateway to the University of Tennessee as the outreach unit of the Institute of Agriculture. With an office in every Tennessee county, UT Extension delivers educational programs and research-based information to citizens throughout the state. In cooperation with Tennessee State University, UT Extension works with farmers, families, youth and communities to improve lives by addressing problems and issue at the local, state and national levels.

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Contact:

Dr. Jim Neel,
jneel@utk.edu

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