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Control of Biting 
and Sucking Lice


Control of Biting and Sucking Lice

Count the costs

Cattle lice infestations can be irritating, not just for cattle but for farmers as well. The economic costs sustained can be substantial: moderate to heavy infestations on cattle may cost producers money through low growth rates in stressed cattle1 and hide damage, as well as having animal welfare implications.

Itchy cattle can damage valuable infrastructure, such as fences and yards as they rub and scratch to relieve the constant irritation. At the same time, this scratching behaviour may directly reduce productivity including weight gains by limiting feed intake while the stock are stressed. In addition, damage to on the value of animal.

Cattle lice facts

Whilst all cattle can carry lice, young cattle or cattle in low body condition score are at particular risk of heavy infestations. Lice populations follow seasonal patterns, with heavier infestations most apparent during the autumn and peaking during the colder winter months. The louse egg attaches to the coat of an animal and hatches when the skin temperature is between 33 and 37°C, which occurs when the ambient temperature drops to 16°C.2 Diagnosis of cattle lice involves visual inspection of cattle safely restrained in a crush or race, especially around the neck and shoulders, where it is more difficult for animals to self-groom. The lice can usually be seen by the naked eye.

Effective strategic treatment

There are many different lice treatments available to producers, including spray or shower treatments, pour-ons, injectables and ear tags. Treatment for lice can usually coincide with a strategic drench for internal parasites in March to May in most regions where lice are an issue, when broad-spectrum pour-on ML drenches are used.

Treatment of cattle lice is most effective when:

Carried out prior to the peak lice season: usually in late Summer or Autumn, when numbers of lice are still low
All cattle including calves on the property are treated within a 7 to 10 day period
Treated cattle are kept separate from other cattle until all have been treated
The correct dose of chemical is used and it is applied properly: absorption of pour-on drench products can be inhibited if cattle are wet and/or muddy at time of application
The product must be applied evenly from the withers to the tall head, not as a single spot.  Application from the tail head to forward to the withers will push the product onto the skin surface and avoids it being applied to the outer layers of the hair coat instead of onto the skin surface
Cattle are moved to a paddock which has been spelled for at least one week and dose not join untreated neighbouring cattle, to minimise the risk of reinfection

If some cattle are missed during treatment, then any lice present on these animals can spread quickly to the rest of the cattle population post-treatment.


Fig 1. Loss of condition due to lice


Fig 2. Close up of cattle lice

Use Dectomax to control sucking and biting lice

Both Dectomax Injectable and Dectomax Pour-On are effective in controlling all three major species of sucking lice in cattle. Dectomax Pour-On is also effective in controlling biting lice.

In a study over 112 days, control of sucking lice with Dectomax Pour-On resulted in 8kg weight gain advantage due to effective lice control compared with other ‘mectin’ pour-ons.3


Three Australian studies were undertaken by independent investigators to demonstrate the efficacy of  Dectomax against infestations in field conditions.

The data from these studies demonstrated that both biting and sucking lice infestations, established before treatment with Dectomax Pour-On, were controlled effectively for at least 42 days.4


Key Benefits of Dectomax:

  • Both Dectomax Injectable and Dectomax Pour-On are effective in controlling all three major species of sucking lice in cattle
  • Dectomax Pour-On is also effective in controlling biting lice
  • Dectomax Injectable is low irritant and provides reliable dosing
  • Also control the parasites that count including the 5 major worms
  • Strategic deworming and lice treatment can be achieved with Dectomax Pour-On
  • Contains doramectin which offers a broad-spectrum efficacy and persistent days of activity
  • Provides longer protection for your cattle which means fewer treatments and reduced pasture contamination

Cattle Dip and Spray

Barricade S controls external parasites on cattle, including cattle tick, buffalo fly and cattle lice

  • Control of external parasites on cattle including cattle tick, buffalo fly and cattle lice
  • Suitable and safe for beef cattle
  • It is easy to maintain the effectiveness of Barricade 'S' dip. No messy powders
  • Kills susceptible ticks on contact
  • 21 days control of buffalo fly
  • Export Slaughter Interval (ESI): 21 days
  • Do NOT use in dairy cattle
  • May be used to control cattle ticks (Boophilus microplus), New Zealand bush ticks (Haemaphysalls longicornis) and paralysis ticks (Ixodes holocyclus) on cattle, horses, deer, goats and working dogs. It also gives protection for up to 21 days against buffalo fly (Haematobia Irritans) in these species
  • Effectively controls cattle lice (Linognathus vitull, Damalinia bovis and Haematopinus eurysternus). Treat in early autumn when lice infestations first occur and ensure thorough wetting of each animal


For more information about Dectomax contact your
Professional Sales Representative on 1800 814 883.


1. MLA. (2005) The Cattle Parasite Atlas Viewed on 5th December 2013.

2. Parkinson TJ, Vermunt JJ, Malmo J (2010) Ch 14 Disorders of the skin, from Disease of Cattle in

Australasia, Vetlearn, Wellington, pp 576-607.

3. Zoetis Study 2239B-02-98-130.

4. Zoetis Study 2039B-14-94-069; Study 2039B-14-94-068; Study 2039B-14-94-067.

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