Grazing management

  • Grazing management alone is unlikely to achieve complete cattle tick control.
  • Rotational grazing management in conjunction with planned chemical treatment is an effective means of cattle tick control.
  • A reduction in cattle tick burden of over 80% with fewer treatments is achievable.
  • Grazing management is not effective for controlling bush or paralysis ticks.

Rotational grazing management can be practiced to get rid of cattle tick seed-ticks, i.e. tick offspring on the pasture that have dropped at various times of the year. Destocked tick-infested paddocks should be left long enough for the seed-ticks to die. The length of survival of seed-ticks will depend on local climatic conditions, but it is never longer than 8-9 months. Under hot, dry conditions 90% of seed-ticks may die after one month. This form of management works well but may be difficult to apply in areas with limited fencing and without a water network.

Alternatively a spelling period of 3 months over summer, or 5 months over winter, will reduce tick numbers. Grazing management combined with chemical treatment of animals prior to re-introduction to paddocks provides an effective, quick clearance of ticks and a useful residual protective period to keep tick numbers low, with a reduced number of treatments.

Paddock spelling can be combined with a rotational grazing strategy, where treated cattle are moved into a paddock that is likely to only have a small tick burden. This will further reduce the number of chemical treatments needed. Cattle are kept in their original paddock for 3-5 days after treatment, before being moved to the lower tick burden paddock.

Grazing management is ineffective for reducing 3-host ticks, such as bush and paralysis ticks, because when the cattle are de-stocked, the ticks remain active in the paddock completing their life cycle on native hosts instead.