South Africa

Health Care

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Important Information to keep in mind for effective tick control

Ticks are the most economically important external parasites of livestock. Heavy infestations cause direct harm (blood loss, a reduced rate in live weight gain, lower milk yield and a downgrade in the quality of hides) and indirect harm (tick-borne diseases: Redwater, Heartwater, Anaplasmosis and sweating sickness). It would have probably been impossible to farm with cattle in many regions of South Africa, where we experience high tick populations of single and multi-host ticks.

Efficient tick control enables profitable stock farming, and livestock farmers have increased their herds and profitability in regions.

Important factors to consider for a complete external parasite control strategy:
  1. The parasite
  2. Seasonal occurrence
  3. Product choice
  4. Tick control regime

Parasite: 85 Ixodidae (hard) tick species and 21 Argasidae (soft) tick species have been identified in South Africa. Approximately ten hard tick species are of economic importance to livestock farmers. These ticks have different lifecycles, and up to three hosts, with four distinct stages: egg, larvae, nymph and adult. Survival time without a host varies from six to eight months.

It is important to identify different tick species on a farm. This will help to best plan for a strategic dipping regime to ensure the best results. Always remember that fully engorged ticks appear the same from a distance. Also note that ticks are far less accessible and susceptible to the effects of acaracides during its moulting stage.


Seasonal occurrence of a tick species is also an important factor that plays a big role in the success of external parasite control. Depending on the lifecycle of the ticks that have been identified on the farm, a strategic external parasite control programme can be implemented to reduce damage caused by ticks and tick-borne diseases, for example:

  • To reduce high blue tick challenges in February to May, farmers will have to implement a strategic dip programme from October to December.
  • To reduce the damages caused by brown-ear tick, farmers will have to implement a strategic dip programme in July to August to reduce the larvae on the animal, and again in November to December.


Products and tick control regime: A number of products are available with different trade names for tick control. These products represent five chemical groups: organophosphates, synthetic pyrethroids, formamidines, macrocyclic lactones and chitin-syntesis inhibitors or growth regulators.

For effective tick control the following factors play a major role:

  • Animal: Breed, age, immune status of animals, stress levels, closed/open herd, coat (long/short hair), etc
  • Environment: Rainfall, length of grass, tick species, tick population on the farm, size of the property, game on the property.
  • Management: Previous tick control history of farm, tick resistance history, tick control (total/tactical strategic control), use of tick-borne disease vaccines, movement of animals to rested camps.


Contact your Virbac Technical sales advisor for a complete strategic tick-control programme.

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