– Rory Lewandowski, Extension Educator Wayne County
Check beef and dairy cattle for lice infestations during the late winter and early spring months. Although lice can be present throughout the entire year, high numbers of lice are most likely during winter months when cattle have longer, thicker hair coats, which make self-grooming less effective in reducing lice numbers. Hot summer temperatures, and for pasture-based production systems, direct exposure to sun, plus rain showers, all play a role in reducing lice numbers and offer further explanation of why heavy lice infestations are most often seen during winter months.
There are two type of lice that may infect cattle: sucking lice and biting lice. It is possible to have both types of lice on any one animal. Sucking lice are blood feeders while biting lice feed by scraping cells from the surface of the skin and the base of hairs. Eggs, commonly called nits, are laid and glued as single eggs to hairs. Although there is some variance between lice species, in general, eggs hatch in approximately two weeks into an immature life stage called a nymph. Nymphs resemble adults except that they are smaller. They go through three molts, shedding their skin each time until they reach full adult size in about three weeks. Within a few days of adulthood, females begin egg laying and generally lay one egg per day. Adults typically live Continue reading