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Lice

AWI provides Australian woolgrowers with tools for best practice lice control to minimise woolgrowers' costs and chemical use, and improve clip quality. In addition, AWI funds research into new lice diagnostic methods and environmentally-friendly lousicides.

Lice are estimated to cost the Australian sheep industry $125m per year, although this figure was mostly likely higher in the decade to 2010.

For many woolgrowers, lice control relies on a best practice approach to chemical choice and application to remove an infestation, and good flock management to prevent reinfestation. Woolgrowers at risk of reinfestation may elect to control lice each year.

 

The management of lice on-farm is underway against a backdrop of:

  • Gradual development of resistance to chemicals by insects. Resistance to the synthetic pyrethroids is wide-spread resistance, and there is known resistance to diflubenzuron and triflumuron.
  • Spreading of chemical resistance amongst flocks.
  • Pressure on fabric manufacturers and retailers to scrutinise processors' use of chemicals.
  • Increased scrutiny of the on-farm environment.
  • Increasing scrutiny of on farm health and safety.
  • Increasing scrutiny of animal welfare.

AWI is addressing these threats and attempting to lower the cost of louse control for woolgrowers in two ways:

  • New products.
  • New diagnostic tests.

LiceSense guide

AWI's LiceSense guide (PDF 1.0Mb) is a woolgrowers' guide to managing sheep lice in response to spreading lice infestations in all Australian states.

The LiceSense guide is a 'refresher' for lice management principles, which are:

  1. Find lice early.
  2. Plan your flock protection.
  3. Know the costs and gains.
  4. Plan a successful treatment.

The LiceSense guide does not cover all the details of lice management. Woolgrowers can also attend extra training days and seek further advice when planning lice protection and treatment for their sheep.

 


AWI's LiceSense guide.

New lice treatments

AWI invests in several projects addressing resistance development by lice and scrutiny of lice treatments, to provide a steady stream of new tools for lice management.

A fungal biological control that colonises and kills lice needs a new commercial partner to further develop a commercially viable product.

AWI is working with a commercial partner on research into a new class of treatments that blocks the ecdysone hormone in both sheep lice and blowflies.

New diagnostic tests

A long term goal for AWI is to develop an on-farm test to detect lice that cannot be seen in wool partings on rubbing sheep. Accurate test results could avoid the need for unnecessary lice treatments off-shears, saving woolgrowers money, and reducing wool residues and the pressure for resistance development.

AWI is considering new research for a test after past investments failed to make a breakthrough.

Further Information

Local lice control training - click on the link to visit the Making More From Sheep website.

LiceBoss -  for more information and to use a decision support tool to manage lice, visit AWI's LiceBoss. LiceBoss will soon be aligned with FlyBoss and WormBoss to deliver integrated decision support tools for woolgrowers managing lice, flies and worms.

Lice management advice - contact the primary industries/agriculture or related organisation in your state.