Development of a rapid pen-side molecular test and investigation of ivermectin drug resistance in cattle lice

Project Details

Status: Active
Investment: $248,960
Commodity: Beef Cattle
Organization: University of Calgary
Investigator: John Gilleard

Lice have a well-demonstrated economic impact on cattle production in North America that amounts to an estimated $126M per annum.

Why is this research important for Alberta ag?

In recent years, hair loss, itchiness, and louse problems following ivermection pour-on treatments of beef cattle have become an increasing problem for producers. As yet, there has been no research of this problem, either in Alberta or elsewhere.

Lice have a well-demonstrated economic impact on cattle production in North America that amounts to an estimated $126M per annum. Louse production impacts in cattle include reduced growth, loss of blood/anemia, itchiness, and animal welfare impacts due to chronic irritation. Itchy cattle also cause damage to fences, housing, and other fixtures.

This project aims to increase the effectiveness and sustainability of control whilst reducing unnecessary drug use.

What benefits can producers expect from this research?

This project aims to improve animal welfare and productivity, prolonging the useful life of macrocyclic lactone drugs and address societal demands for responsible pharmaceutical use in the livestock industry. This includes:

  • Provision of urgently-needed information on louse infestations in beef cattle herds before and after ivermection pour-on treatments

  • Determination of whether cattle lice are developing ivermection resistance and which louse species are involved

  • Development of new pen-side diagnostic tests to enable routine assessment of louse burdens and the effectiveness of treatment/control programs

How will these research findings reach producers on-farm?

This research will be used to bring a change in attitudes to diagnostic testing and drug management for parasite control in the cattle industry in Western Canada and beyond. Findings will be presented at regional, national, and international scientific meetings and results will be published in peer-reviewed publications.

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