Texas Keeps an Eye on Tick Fever

Texas beef producers are looking at different ways to combat the cattle fever tick. The fever tick can destroy the animals’ red blood cells, causing acute anemia, high fever, and enlargement of the spleen and liver, ultimately resulting in death.

Floyd Ingram, Milam County extension agent

Floyd Ingram, Milam County extension agent

“We’re on the edge of it right now, We’re trying to stay one step ahead of it,” says Floyd Ingram a county extension agent in Milan County, Texas.

He says there are different applications to combat tick fever in cattle. 

Option 1:  Ready-to-use injectable. Doramectin is given on a 25 to 28 day schedule for the 6 to 9 month quarantine period. This treatment option has been proven to be effective against the fever tick. It also relieves the stress of dipping and/or moving cattle from the premises, reduces the number of times that cattle must be gathered during the quarantine period by about one-half, resulting in substantial cost savings for the rancher when compared to a dipping schedule. It is important to note that Doramectin products have a pre-slaughter withdrawal period.

Option 2: A prescribed schedule of dipping the cattle on the premises every 7 to 14 days for 6 to 9 months. The dipping schedule is based on the fever tick’s life cycle. The cattle from a quarantined pasture are sprayed on the ranch or trucked to an authorized dipping vat, where they are treated under the supervision of a TAHC or USDA inspector, who must certify that 100 percent of the herd was treated. The animals are returned to their pasture, where more ticks will attach to the animal before the next scheduled dipping. This procedure is repeated again and again to “clean” the pasture of ticks during the minimum 6 to 9 month quarantine period.

Option 3: “Starving out” the tick, by removing the hosts. This approach, known as “vacating” the pasture, can be a more economical option for some ranchers as it cuts the costs of repeatedly rounding up, transporting and dipping cattle. This option begins with dipping the cattle on a 7 to 14 day schedule. The cattle must have two consecutive tickfree inspections and dippings before the herd can be moved to a new, tick-free pasture. The tick-infested pasture is then left empty, or vacated, for nine months. Although vacating the premises of all livestock is often less expensive for the landowner, it is much less effective in eradicating fever ticks due to free-ranging deer and exotics.


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