How to beat January disease

15 Jan, 2023 - 00:01 0 Views
How to beat January disease

The Sunday Mail

Word from the Market
Chipo Tachiona

CATTLE farmers and the country have suffered huge losses due to tick-borne diseases that include redwater; heartwater; and theileriosis, commonly referred to as the January disease.

This has resulted in economic insecurity for farmers as cattle are a vital source of wealth.

Controlling theileriosis, like all other tick-borne diseases, depends on how you contain the tick vector, and dipping is one of the most effective ways to do so. Cattle dipping means application of acaricide to cattle to destroy parasites, especially ticks, which infest their skin.

Cattle dipping methods

Plunge dip

A plunge dip is a structure that enables total immersion of livestock in water charged with an acaricide. Such dips are either concrete-based, fixed or transportable. Plunge dips, when built and utilised properly, ensure that the entire animal is soaked in the water. Insufficient dipping results in ineffective tick management and tick resistance to acaricides.

Of paramount importance is the observation of the manufacturer’s instructions on charge and recharge.

In most cases, farmers use an understrength/compromised dipping mixture due to reliance on the “smell” test. They believe, if you can smell the chemicals, then all is well, yet they would be using weak solutions that encourage tick resistance build-up over time.

All animals, except very young calves and highly pregnant cows, must be immersed every dip day. Pregnant, young, sick or old animals may not be dipped at all, but can be sprayed or undergo alternative treatments. Fixed dips must be long, wide and deep enough to totally submerge the animal, as it plunges and is forced to swim a distance before striking the bottom.

Cattle spray race

Since there is less risk of harm, cattle spray races are appropriate for commercial purposes. This is a gentler way of dipping and has become an effective and efficient alternative to plunge dips.

Cattle walk through a tunnel and are sprayed with acaracide solutions targeted at all parts of the animal. A thorough soaking of the animal’s body has become possible with the advent of well-designed systems. To ensure all ticks attached to the animal’s body are killed by the chemical, the level of wetness should not differ from that of cattle going through the plunge dip.

To guarantee appropriate cover and successful tick management, proper maintenance and practices must be followed. To achieve an even cover, nozzles must be carefully set and regularly removed and cleaned. The spray race needs to be at the proper pressure. Without creating a mist, the dip wash must penetrate the animal’s coat. Dip wash will not adequately penetrate the coat, the animal’s ears or the area under its tail if the pressure is too low.

Topical treatments

Topical treatments (pour-ons) are acaracides that are concentrated and applied topically to an animal’s skin in tiny dosages. They contain a spreading component, typically oil-based, that enables the dip to cover the animal’s skin.

Pour-ons are more expensive than plunge or spray dips, but are more effective against flies and midges and can be used in fly control programmes. Pour-ons can be used on few animals or as a temporary solution, but should not be relied on for total tick control. Pour-ons must be applied to dry animals; if it rains on them right after treatment, the pour-ons may not work as intended.

Hand spraying

For a few animals that do not warrant the expenditure of a spray race or plunge dip, as in the case of a small-scale commercial dairy farm, hand spraying is an effective tick control strategy. It is necessary to use a reliable knapsack sprayer and regulate the pressure so that the animal receives a full wetting without the spray condensing into a mist.

For cattle, seven to nine litres of dip wash are needed per head; for sheep and goats, this amount is lower.

To guarantee that the skin is saturated, spraying should be done against the direction of the hair growth. Sheep and goats can be treated for ticks by hand-spraying.

Hand dressing

Applying tick greases or oils topically to areas of the animal where ticks concentrate, such as the ears or beneath the tail, is known as hand dressing. It can be used as a spot treatment in between dip days or in addition to any other way of tick management, but it should not be used as a sole means of tick prevention. Tick greases and oils typically have a long residual time and adhere better to hairless skin.

Injectable parasiticides

They are effective against ticks and are used to control internal parasites. They are typically only effective against single-host ticks and are too expensive to be utilised for complete tick control.

When should cattle be dipped?

Farmers should get knowledge on when and what to vaccinate their cattle against, because vaccination and dipping cannot be done in one season, but rather at different periods throughout the year when certain diseases are prevalent. Cattle are dipped once every two weeks.

With the arrival of summer, this plan must shift so that January disease hotspots must dip their cattle three times in 14 days, in accordance with the 5-5-4 dipping schedule. The 5-5-4 dipping regime is a practice where animals are dipped every five days and then at four-day intervals to ensure effective tick control.

More than 65 percent of cattle deaths in Zimbabwe are caused by tick-borne diseases, with 500 000 cattle valued at US$150 million having died of the January disease from 2018 to 2022. Early detection of tick manifestation helps to save animals, but prevention is better than cure, which means farmers must dip their animals regularly to prevent tick-borne diseases. This is crucial as the country journeys towards an upper middle-class economy as envisioned in Vision 2030.

The Agricultural Marketing Authority (AMA) invites all institutions or individuals trading in livestock and livestock products to register or renew their licences for the 2023 agricultural season before January 31, 2023. All registrations are done online at AMA website

Chipo Tachiona is Farmyard Investments director. Word from the market is a column produced by the Agricultural Marketing Authority (AMA) to promote market-driven production. Feedback [email protected] or WhatsApp/Call +263781706212.


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