Ranchers de-lice cattle before ice melts

WICHITA FALLS, Tx (RNN Texoma) - Texas A&M AgriLife Extension agents are working hard to remind ranchers to de-lice their cattle before it gets a chance to spread.

During the cold months, cattle, like most animals, grow more hair to deal with the cold. With more hair comes more lice.

They said if cows stop eating it can be a sign of lice infestation. That infestation could cost the ranchers big money.

"They're looking for weight gain," Lydia Tucker an employee at Animal Health International and rancher for 30 years said. "They're wanting two pounds a day, a pound and a half, two pounds gain a day."

The lice reduce the cow's appetites causing them to lose weight.

"They're not going to be a healthy looking cattle like they should be," Tucker said.

Tucker said lice are a nuisance to cattle like flies are to humans. The lice make them itchy.

"They'll be scratching on every fence post, Tucker said. "They'll be rubbing on anything with trees or anything they can get a hold of."

Experts said the best solution to stop a lice infestation before it starts is by deworming cattle twice a year. Tucker advised once at the first of spring and then some time in the middle of the fall.

She advised against spraying cattle to remove lice, especially in these chilly temperatures.

"You'll only get maybe a weeks control," she said.

Another sign Tucker said to watch for is a change in the cow's gums. That may mean it could be losing blood. Lice can reduce red blood cells in a cow by 75 percent.

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