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ARTICLES >> Livestock Articles

AWI with a LiceSense to Kill

Posted by Bestprac on Nov 14 2009

Australian Wool Innovation is helping growers make sense of the increasing problem of lice infestations with a new extension program known as LiceSense.


With the spread of resistance to some backliners and the removal of Diazinon as a sheep dipping agent, the wool industry’s marketing, research and development body is stepping in to offer growers support.

After discussions with various state farm organisations, AWI is assisting with the cost of training growers, farm supply merchandisers and woolbrokers in the full range of options available for controlling lice, including the new test that uses shearing combs and cutters. Training can also be provided via farmer groups, through state departments of primary industries or in-store events.

Meanwhile, AWI-funded research in Queensland has found a naturally occurring fungus can act as a biopesticide to kill lice. Queensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries scientists have effectively used a strain of Metarhizim to control lice infestations, and the research has commenced registration trials. A different strain of the same fungus is widely used for the control of locusts.

However, AWI head of sheep technologies Geoff Lindon said for now many of the best ways to manage lice were still the old, tried and true methods. ‘Looking for lice in at least 10 sheep in a mob, fixing fences, treating or isolating new sheep on arrival, working with neighbours, clean mustering and rotation of chemicals are still the best ways to combat lice.’

As part of the LiceSense program, staff at farm supply outlets can be trained in problem solving, being able to tailor information according to a woolgrower’s individual situation. The chemical treatment of stock is just one of the suite of solutions a reseller can supply.

According to a 2006 study by Holmes and Sackett, lice cost sheep producers between $1.04 and $1.44 per head in lost production.

‘The issue of lice control is a key focus of AWI’s on-farm R&D program, alongside the control of wild dogs, worms and flies. Together with these areas, extension and shearer training have received an increase in proportional funding under the new AWI operational plan, up from 25% to 43%,’ AWI CEO Brenda McGahan said.

Lice control may be no laughing matter but AWI has released a LiceSense cartoon calendar, illustrated by South Australian shearer Jed Dunstan. It highlights best practice through the lighter side of lice control and farming life. The free calendar is available to those attending training days, from participating resellers, or can be ordered with the manual via the order form.

AWI has compiled significant technical knowledge to assist on-farm eradiation of lice. To find out more, visit www.wool.com/liceboss.

Last changed: Feb 15 2012

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