Cattle herd shearing can help to control Rhipicephalus microplus ticks
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Given the difficulties of controlling the tick Rhipicephalus microplus due to acaricide resistance, this study aimed to ascertain whether shearing could reduce infestation in cattle. 17 taurine cattle were sheared on the anterior third of one randomly selected side. Shearing was undertaken using a machine with a blade, leaving coats with a thickness of 1 mm. Subsequently, eight evaluations were performed once a week, counting adult females of R. microplus with a diameter > 4.5 mm on the anterior third of both sides (shorn and unshorn). The coat length was also monitored by taking five hair samples from each animal fortnightly (1, 15, 29, 43 and 57 days post shorn) from a central area of both shoulders (shorn and unshorn). The tick counts and hair length data were transformed for normalisation and were analysed using mixed models. The tick and hair length means were significantly higher for the unshorn side. Tick counts were significantly lower on the sheared side until the fifth evaluation, with the final three presenting no differences between the sides. The hair length was significantly lower for the sheared side during the five evaluations. We conclude that as the hair length increased, there was also an increase in the number of ticks on the sheared side. Although this method is not practical for large herds, it can be deemed an option in extreme conditions of tick infestation. In addition, the study reinforces the suggestion that the selection and/or use of cattle with shorter hairs may contribute to reduced tick infestation.
KeywordsCattle Shorn Tick counts Hair length Control
This research project was supported by the São Paulo State Research Support Foundation (FAPESP) (Grant #2012/03191-9) and the Institute of Animal Science (APTA-SAA).
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