Ticks are small, blood-sucking ectoparasites that attach to the sheep by biting into the skin. The main sheep tick is the castor bean tick, Ixodes ricinus. This is a three-host tick, meaning each stage feeds on a different host detaching and moulting between hosts. Ticks thrive in areas of rough grazing, moorland, heath or woodland, as they need dense, damp environments in order to survive when they are not feeding on an animal. They don't jump or fly, but are picked up by animals as they brush through vegetation.
Why are ticks an issue to sheep?
Ticks can have significant effects on sheep welfare and production, and recent studies suggest ticks are becoming more numerous and widespread throughout the UK. In sheep, they transmit three important diseases:
Adult ticks will also feed on humans where they can transmit Lyme's disease, a potentially debilitating disease.When are ticks a particular issue to sheep?
Ticks are primarily a problem in the spring, from March - June, when they are actively prospecting for a host on which to feed. However, mild winters will lead to tick activity as early as January or February. In some western parts of the country there is also an additional autumn rise in numbers, from August - November. The numbers of ticks are becoming more abundant due to changes in farming practice; agricultural environment management such as not burning bracken; climate change and acaricide resistance.How can ticks be controlled?
Prevention is the best form of treatment! Ticks can be prevented through the use of synthetic pyrethroid based pour-ons containing cypermethrin such as Crovect™ Pour On which delivers persistent efficacy of 10 weeks, with the majority of ticks being killed within 3 hours. Other treatment options are alphacypermethrin or deltamethrin, or a diazinon organo-phosphate based plunge dip.
Welcome to Farm Animal Health!
I confirm I am a farmer, Registered Animal Medicines Advisor (RAMA, formerly SQP) or veterinary professional, in the United Kingdom.