Moves to Tackle Sheep Lice

A recent increase in lice numbers across the state has prompted the Livestock Health and Pest Authorities to review the sheep lice policy in NSW with the aim of developing a more coordinated approach to lice control.

Meetings were held around the state this week to review the NSW Sheep Lice Policy, with LHPA staff and directors along with relevant staff from Industry & Investment NSW.

Jim McDonald, district veterinarian from the Tablelands LHPA, said that the current review which began in March is in response to the growing need for a better sheep lice control program throughout NSW.

The Livestock Health and Pest Authorities, with I&I NSW, are in the process of developing an improved lice control policy to be supported by all 14 authorities across the state, Mr McDonald said.

The sheep lice review aims to improve advisory activity to better promote a range of management strategies to producers and to provide ongoing training and technical support for LHPA and I&I NSW staff.

Any effective lice control program will depend on producers being prepared to implement these management strategies and not just rely on chemical treatments.

Initiatives discussed at the meetings this week include:

  • the creation of lice groups and lice surveys in authorities where lice are a greater risk;
  • promotion of the new lab testing service
  • standardised sheep inspections at saleyards;
  • a standardised approach for following up saleyard breaches at the property of origin; and
  • a centralised reporting system to capture information on lice prevalence.

It is estimated lice costs NSW producers $150 million a year in treatment costs and lost production.

Lice can seriously reduce woolgrower profits by causing breaks in fleeces on infected sheep and encouraging the animals to rub and damage their wool, as well as impacting on prime lamb production. Lousy sheep may be denied access to saleyards, stock routes and agistment.

Any sheep producers who have information they wish to contribute to the sheep lice review should contact their local LHPA office.

Media contact: Suzie Robinson 6391 3720 / 0428 465 378
Source: Livestock Health and Pest Authorities

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