Everything You Should Know About Sheep Lice and How to Control Them

Lice is one of the most challenging pest menaces sheep farmers have to handle. Unlike other types of livestock, sheep have a thick coat, which provides the perfect breeding grounds for lice. However, their presence on the animals' skins makes them uncomfortable. One of the early signs of an infestation is when your flock keeps scratching, biting and dragging their body against the fence and other surfaces. You should consult an agricultural expert on ways to control the spread. Here is everything you should know about the pest problem. 

The Lifecycle of the Lice

An adult female louse starts laying eggs once it becomes mature. Once laid, the eggs attach to the sheep's wool. If they aren't interrupted with chemicals and any other treatment, they will eventually hatch. The temperature and humidity in the woolly coat are typically ideal for the adult to lay the egg and for them to hatch. The eggs go through various stages and eventually reach the adult lice stage. 

How Lice Spread

It is also crucial to learn the media and method of lice transmission from one sheep to another. Direct contact between the sheep is a primary transfer mode between the animals. As a farmer, you should have a sturdy and secure fence around your property to keep stray sheep that might be infected away. If members of your flock are already infected, consider separating them from the rest and treating them separately. Other sources of contamination include the shearing scissors and sheds. The lice can survive for a significant length of time in the environment and infect a new sheep during the shearing process. 

Choosing a Management Strategy

Several management strategies exist to deal with lice. These include biosecurity management, quarantine, dipping and backline chemicals. Dipping involves taking every sheep through a dip with chemicals that typically kill lice. Biosecurity management involves creating fences and boundaries to keep sheep from other flocks away from your farm. You can also spray a concentrated mixture of pesticides on the back of your sheep to kill lice. Quarantine management is separating the sheep you suspect of being infected from the rest of the fleet. 

The best way to handle fleas in sheep is to let the professionals assess the problem. They can tell how prevalent it is and possible intervention measures. Speak to a competent animal health expert about your problem and work on a solution together. For more information on lice treatment for sheep, contact a professional near you.