As we head toward winter and more consistently cold temperatures, monitor beef and dairy cattle for possible lice infestations. Cattle lice thrive in cold weather and are spread by animal-to-animal contact. Symptoms of a lice infestation include hair loss, a general unthrifty appearance, constant rubbing on fences, equipment or other objects and leaving hair, constant tail twitching and licking/grooming. Often, by time these symptoms are noticed the lice population is above an economic treatment level. Lice can cause production losses by reducing weight gains, reducing milk production, and increasing susceptibility to disease/illness. In addition, the constant rubbing/itching by animals with lice can cause damage to fences, facilities or equipment that are used as a "scratching post."

There are two main types of lice to watch for. Biting or chewing lice feed by scraping material from the skin and base of the animal’s hairs. Biting lice are commonly found near the base of the tail and along the topline of the animals. Generally, biting lice do not crowd together; they are active and move when disturbed. Sucking lice are blood feeders and are a more serious pest than biting lice. Sucking lice are typically found over the shoulders, down the animal’s neck, on the ears, dewlap or brisket. In contrast to biting lice, sucking lice will crowd together and are less likely to move when disturbed. It is possible to have both biting and sucking lice present on an animal or within a herd.

An average of 10 or more lice per square inch is often used as the number at which significant production loss is occurring, therefore treatment is often recommended if there are five or more lice per square inch, since population levels can increase relatively quickly. Cattle owners/managers should inspect cattle, particularly dairy cattle, on a regular basis, about every three weeks, during the late fall and winter months. For beef cattle, it may be worthwhile to run animals through a chute for an inspection in late fall and then be observant about cattle behavior and run any suspect cattle into a chute for inspection to avoid a potential outbreak of lice.

According to a University of Kentucky publication, "Lice on Beef and Dairy Cattle," examination of five, 1-inch square areas on the face, dewlap, neck, back and base of the tail of each animal is a conservative protocol. Look first for nits, and then part the hair carefully to look for lice. Both biting and sucking lice feed head down with their abdomens pointed out. Record numbers and species present at each examination area. An article from Cornell University about managing dairy cattle lice says to use a flashlight to monitor for lice and to "carefully inspect sections of skin on a representative sample of animals in the herd, either 10 percent or 15 animals in each group: mature cows, heifers and calves."

Chemical treatment of lice in beef cattle involves the use of non-systemic pour-on, spot-on or spray-type products including pyrethroids such as permethrin, cyfluthrin, lambda-cyhalothrin and gamma-cyhalothrin. According to University of Kentucky publication Ent-11, Insect Control for Beef Cattle 2017, "This treatment will kill all active forms but will not kill the eggs. Retreat the entire herd 10-14 days later, to kill any newly hatched lice. This should eliminate lice on the herd. Reduce the chances of re-infestation by keeping all new animals isolated from the herd until they have been treated twice." University of Kentucky publication Ent-12, Insect Control on Dairy Cattle 2017 recommends the use of pour-on insecticides Atroban, Delice, Boss and Cylence to control lice. Before using any insecticide, always read the product label and directions.

For more information about cattle lice and control options, contact the Wayne County Extension office at 330-264-8722.

2017 Corn Performance Trial Results

Results from the 2017 Ohio Corn Performance Test are now available online at: Single and multi-year agronomic data is currently available for all sites and regions for 2017. The results can be accessed by following the links on the left side of the page. Information regarding the growing season, evaluation procedures and traits will be available soon. Additional hybrids will be added as soon as marketing information becomes available, as will the combined regional tables (which are especially helpful in assessing hybrid performance across locations).

Livestock Care Standards Changes

The Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) wants to remind producers and livestock owners about upcoming changes to Ohio’s livestock care standards. Effective Jan. 1, 2018, veal calves must be housed in group pens by 10 weeks of age. Additionally, whether housed in individual stalls or group pens, the calves must be allowed to turn around and cannot be tethered. Also effective Jan. 1, tail docking on dairy cattle can be performed only by a licensed veterinarian and then only if medically necessary.

Veal production regulations, including the changes in housing and tethering are found in the Ohio Revised code at:

Rory Lewandowski is an OSU Extension Agriculture & Natural Resources educator and may be reached at 330-264-8722.