Cattle Lice

25 Sep, 2018

Cattle lice cause major irritation to herds across Australia. This aggravation can cause them to rub, scratch and bite which in turn can result in the development of skin conditions and the depreciation of their hide value. It can also cause destruction to fences, yards and trees as the cattle attempt to banish the lice through constant rubbing on the nearest surface they can find. There are two types of cattle lice; biting lice(bovicolabovis) which are reddish brown in appearance, grow to about 2mm in length and are most commonly found on the neck, shoulders, back and rump; and sucking lice, of which there are several species ranging from 1.2mm to 5mm in length and most commonly found anywhere on the hair coat but often seen as dark or bluish lice between the hind limbs and areas on the body shaded from light

The economic damage to a herd from a lice infestation is a little controversial especially that due to a biting lice infestation which many view as purely cosmetic. However damage to fences and trees etc, visual appearance of sale stock and producer reputation all generally add up to the fact most cattle producers prefer to prevent, control or treat lice infestation in their cattle

Life cycle

The cattle lice spends it whole lifecycle on the host animal

The female louse lays her eggs, which attach to the hair shaft. The eggs hatch as nymphs at any time between 8 and 19 days. The nymphs complete three moults on the cattle on their way to becoming fully grown. The entire process from beginning to end can take between three and six weeks. Population numbers are typically at their heaviest in the winter months and lowest in summer, as the cattle’s denser winter coat is a more favourable environment for the louse’s survival.


If you suspect your herd might be infested with these lice(look out for skin irritation or patches of raw skin where hair has been rubbed off – if you are unsure contact Cemvet’s in-house Veterinary advice for advice on lice infection and available treatment options ), there are treatment options available including pour-on solutions, sprays, and injections. Vetmec Pour-On Cattle Drench is an odourless treatment solution for dairy and beef cattle that kills biting and sucking lice as well as larvae as they emerge from eggs that have already been laid at the time of treatment. Vetmec Cattle injection and Vetmec F injection are also very effective treatments for cattle lice although to a lesser extent against a purely biting lice infestation.

The beauty of using these Vetmec products for the treatment or control of lice infestation is that you get the added bonus of an effective cattle worm treatment (or cattle worm and fluke treatment in the case of Vetmec F) at the same time for the same price.

Get in touch with Chemvet for more information.


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Barber’s Pole Worm (Haemonchus Contortus)