Bio-Economic Impact of Amblyomma americanum in Beef Cattle Production Systems

  • D. R. Barnard
  • R. T. Ervin
  • F. M. Epplin


Amblyomma americanum (Linnaeus) (Acari: Ixodidae) is indigenous to North America. On beef cattle, these ticks suck blood, damage hides, and cause “tick worry”. Since beef production in the USA is a commodity based industry, each factor can affect producer profits.

Integrated pest management (IPM) offers a feasible decision-making framework for tick control on beef cattle. IPM is based on experimentally defined economic injury levels and requires the application of experience, empiricism, and modelling to determine if beef production and pasture management practices can be changed to comply with recommendations for tick control. A damage model fitted to data for daily rates of weight gain in tick infested nursing Bos taurus cattle shows that a functional relationship exists between calf growth rates and tick density. Based on this damage model, economic injury levels are 26-38 feeding female ticks per calf when acaricides are used for tick control. Economic injury levels vary with the cost and effectiveness of different acaricides and with the cost of labor for gathering livestock for treatment. The latter factor changes with the size and condition of the pasture. Economic injury levels for non-chemical control of A. americanum do not exist because we are unable to predict market value and management cost factors for these technologies relative to improved yield in beef cattle.

Bos indicus cattle may present an alternative to acaricides for tick control because Bos indicus cattle are not significantly compromised by tick infestation. Using a mathematical programming model, we found that a Bos indicus beef production system generated 19% more return per hectare on tick infested pasture than did a Bos taurus beef production system. The incorporation of Bos indicus genotypes into beef cattle breeding programs in the USA could raise the economic injury level for A. americanum.


Integrate Pest Management Beef Cattle Average Daily Gain Tick Infestation Tick Control 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. R. Barnard
    • 1
  • R. T. Ervin
    • 2
  • F. M. Epplin
    • 3
  1. 1.Medical and Veterinary Entomology Research Laboratory, ARSUSDAGainesvilleUSA
  2. 2.Department of Agricultural EconomicsTexas Tech UniversityLubbockUSA
  3. 3.Department of Agricultural EconomicsOklahoma State UniversityStillwaterUSA

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