Checking sheep regularly and thoroughly for lice is an essential tool for maintaining a lice-free flock.
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Monitoring sheep for lice
A description of how to properly go about checking a mob and individual sheep for lice.
Causes of rubbing in sheep
Description of conditions aside from lice that will cause sheep to rub their fleeces.
Itch mite in sheep
Description of itch mite, its diagnosis and control.
An interactive tool that allows users to determine the cause (or causes) of rubbing in their sheep.
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Each of the questions below links further down the page to the answers.
All mobs should be checked for lice at least twice each year. Useful opportunities for monitoring are when sheep are yarded for drenching, crutching, marking and shearing or other management procedures. Any sheep seen with rubbed fleece or pulled wool should be checked as a matter of urgency. It is also a good idea to ask your shearers and shed hands to look out for lice at shearing. Make sure to check every mob on your property, including the killers and rams.
All newly purchased sheep, agisted sheep or sheep returning from other properties should be inspected before release onto the property. New rams can pose a significant risk, but are generally introduced only in small numbers; therefore, an automatic policy of shearing and off–shears treating rams for lice on arrival (use a product that will kill lice before the rams are joined) is recommended.
Any stray sheep found in the mob should be closely examined for obvious lice, but if no lice are found the sheep may still have lice (see next paragraph). Follow the management options in Question 1. Some owners prefer not to risk the chance of lice and to dispose of stray or returned sheep rather than return them to the mob.
Look for sheep showing signs of rubbing or biting at their fleece.
Rubbing is a very powerful indicator of infestation and sheep will begin to rub with quite low lice numbers. If sheep are not rubbing, even if lice are present, they will be in such low numbers that it will be almost impossible to find them by random inspections. Therefore, time is most efficiently used by carefully going through the mob trying to identify any sheep with rubbed or pulled wool.
Other causes of rubbing include grass seeds, fleece rot, lumpy wool, flystrike and itch mite. Sheep with tender wool or frequently walking through bush or long grass and some breeds that shed their fleece may also appear to be rubbing. Read the LiceBoss Note: Causes of rubbing in sheep or use the Rubbing Tool in Liceboss to help to diagnose other causes of rubbed fleece.
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