Ticks can seriously damage a cow’s udder and teats. Damaged teats are a primary reason for poor calf growth and underweight weaners (8 months).
For every teat that’s damaged or destroyed the calf could be 25kg to 40kg lighter at weaning because the mother has less milk. If the beef price is between K11 to K13 this translates to a loss of between K275 and K520 per animal. A seriously bad outcome for the cattle farmer.
TICK AND BLOWFLY DAMAGE
Abscesses that form, where the tick has attached, allow bacteria to enter, multiply and grow. At first there will be a hard lump which becomes soft and finally bursts. At this stage yellow pus drains from the wound.
The stockman can clear the infection up by cleaning the wound with wound oil, or wound aerosol. Make sure the abscess drains properly. It should clear up in a week or so with regular checking and application of the wound oil.
The open wound must be protected against blowflies which lay their eggs in such wounds during summer and autumn. Hatching maggots feed on the wound and make it bigger, causing extensive damage.
Injectables that kill parasites, including blowflies, will protect the animal.
TICK-FREE UDDERS AND TEATS
The problem with these type of wounds is that they contract when they heal. If the bite was on the teat, the teat canal can be blocked. Sometimes the abscess bursts to the inside and the infection may spread to the udder quarter. This is very difficult to cure.
It’s essential to keep a cow’s udder free of ticks even if you have to apply tick control products on a weekly basis during summer. Applying a correctly diluted product with a spray bottle or using tick grease is very effective for tick control. Make sure that all the heifers are dipped weekly as well, because ticks can’t be easily seen on their small udders.
If a tick attaches to a heifer’s udder it can cause permanent damage.