Nearly all new infestations begin from contact with infested sheep. A good biosecurity plan is essential for keeping lice out.
For those who like to see all the information and simply read through it in order. Each heading is a link to a page of information — the dot point provides a summary of the page.
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Preventing new lice infestations
Introduction to prevention of lice infestations.
Monitoring and detection of lice
Introduction to and further links on how and when to monitor and find lice.
Sheep lice—biosecurity can prevent introduction
Planning your biosecurity plan to prevent lice introduction.
Question and answer
For those who prefer a problem-based approach to learning, answer the following questions.
Each of the questions below links further down the page to the answers.
- What infrastructure is essential to good biosecurity?
- What are the four (4) key components of a successful lice biosecurity plan?
- What are the three (3) sources of possible lice introduction?
- When purchasing sheep what factors about the origin of the sheep, or the sheep themselves, increase the risk that the purchased sheep will have lice?
- If sheep are being brought onto the property, what are your options to manage lice?
- How long does it take for signs of lice infestation to become obvious?
You can also click on the link in each answer below to go to LiceBoss pages with related information.
1. What infrastructure is essential to good biosecurity?
Stock-proof fences are essential for good biosecurity. Without them, straying sheep can bring lice onto the property and isolation/quarantine of introduced sheep becomes impossible.
2. What are the four (4) key components of a successful lice biosecurity plan?
- Commitment to preventing lice being introduced
- Understand lice biology and how lice spread
- Recognition that all introduced sheep present a possible risk of introducing lice
- Awareness that communication within the local community assists lice biosecurity
3. What are the three (3) sources of possible lice introduction?
- Stray sheep
- Purchased sheep
- Non-sheep transmission: Research has shown that lice may survive for up to 10 days on shearer moccasins. If shearers have come from a property where lousy sheep were shorn, ask them to change clothes and moccasins before entering your shed, or moccasins (without metal buckles) can be microwaved. Lice may also survive for up to 3 weeks in wool left in pens or on the floor of shearing sheds if temperatures are mild. Although possible, the risk of lice introduction by either of these non-sheep transmission methods is low compared to that from straying or introduced sheep.
4. When purchasing sheep what factors about the origin of the sheep, or the sheep themselves, increase the risk that the purchased sheep will have lice?
1. They are from a high-risk source property, which has one or more of these:
- regularly trades sheep
- poor fences
- crossbred lambs that tend to stray
- no active monitoring
- no stock introduction policy*
- neighbours infested
- inability to get clean muster
- split shearings
2. The sheep themselves are high risk introductions because:
- known lice present and treated
- suspect lice and treated
- unknown louse status (e.g. saleyard)
3. They are from a district that has a high local lice population.
5. If sheep are being brought onto the property, what are your options to manage lice?
A good biosecurity plan must assume that introduced sheep are infested with lice regardless of their history or whether there are no lice or signs of lice. Your decision on how to manage the introduced sheep will be a risk management choice. This is based on
- The number of sheep being introduced, the cost of their treatment and impact of out-of-season shearing compared with the cost and impact of treating the whole flock if lice spread to them.
- Your ability to properly quarantine the introduced sheep until 2–4 months (depending on the product active) after off-shears treatment. This requires an area of stock-proof fencing to separate introduced sheep from other sheep on the property.
- Your ability to prevent sheep from straying onto the property and bringing lice. This requires boundary fencing to be stock-proof where ever there may be a challenge from sheep (and also feral goats).
Management options in descending order of biosecurity rigour are:
- Treat introduced sheep with an oral fluralaner product and keep separate for 4 weeks to ensure no lice are present before mixing with your mob. This product is effective on all wool lengths.
- Shear and apply an off-shears topical treatment, then quarantine for a minimum of 2–4 months (depending on the product active).
- Sheep introduced with less than 6 weeks wool should have an off-shears topical treatment applied, then be quarantined for a minimum of 2–4 months (depending on the product active). Note: this may produce high wool residues if the sheep have already been treated off-shears.
- Quarantine introduced sheep until after they receive an off-shears treatment at their next shearing. Quarantine should continue for a minimum of 2–4 months off-shears (depending on the product active).
- Introduced sheep with more than 6 weeks wool may require a long wool treatment to suppress (not eradicate) lice; consult the Long Wool Lice Tool to see if this is warranted (ensure treatment adheres to Sheep Rehandling Interval and Wool Harvest Interval).
- Don’t apply quarantine or treatment to introduced sheep. Then treat the entire flock off-shears, or if lice or signs of lice are not detected consider not treating.
6. How long does it take for signs of lice infestation to become obvious?
It takes at least 3 months from the time of initial infestation for rubbing to become obvious. Read More