How to effectively control parasites such as ticks

Angie Khumalo, presenter of Mzansi Wethu’s agricultural television show, African Farming, travelled to the Eastern Cape to learn more about 29-year-old Sinelizwi Fakade, who runs a successful commercial farming business. He is passionate about sustainable farming methods and mentoring, and is involved in helping youth who wants to farm, reach their potential.

Fakade plants various crops after carefully considering the environment he farms in. 

“Farmers have to deal with heavy rainfall in this province,” Khumalo noted. 

According to her Fakade is considering venturing into livestock farming. During the studio interview she asked Dr Thapelo Makae, Elanco Veterinarian, what Fakade should look out for in his environment, as external parasites like ticks will have to be controlled and managed in heavy rainfall regions. 

Tick infestations severely affect productivity as it causes disease and can even lead to the death of animals. Ticks also act as a vector for tick-borne diseases which can cause tick fever. Furthermore, this pest can cause serious damage to hides. This reduces the product’s value and can even render it as unusable.

The most common tool in the management of cattle tick is the use of chemicals. Dr Makae said there are various applications of dips that should form part of a farmer’s programme to control external parasites. 

“There are many ways in which we can control ticks, for example using dips like Deadline. This dip can be poured directly on the back of animals.” 

He said farmers can also use plunge dips, where the treatment/dip are mixed with water and the bodies of the livestock are covered in the solution. A dip like Milbitraz is diluted with water and sprayed on the animal. There are injectable products that help with killing of ticks. 

“No matter what method a farmer prefers, it is important to establish an external parasite control programme on a farm.” 

However, such a treatment programme must be developed with the help of a professional, because it is possible for parasites to develop resistance to the chemicals if not applied correctly. When using these products, it is important to always follow the label instructions.

The timing of treatments is crucial. Applying treatments early in the season, for instance, reduces the rise in tick numbers during spring. Because of all these factors, an integrated management approach is best. If various factors causing the problem are addressed, it reduces the need for chemical treatments in the long term.

Factors such as the selection of cattle with resistant genetics, closed herds, quarantine and selective treatment of stock before introduction to the herd, all play a role in controlling outbreaks of external parasites.

For information: e-mail Dr Makae at

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