Journal of the Department of Agriculture, Western Australia, Series 4


Peter Morcombe


Sheep, Bovicola ovis, Western Australia

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Sheep farmers would agree it is difficult to find sheep lice when carrying out an inspection.

The lice detection test makes this task easier and helps farmers decide how to control lice. The test also helps community liaison groups with eradication of lice infestations in specific areas, and provides data for epidemiologists to monitor changes in prevalence of lice and efficacy of treatments. Tests are much cheaper than flock inspection on the farm.

The present lice detection test was developed by the Australian Wool Testing Authority (A WTA) and introduced as an integral part of the Western Australian Sheep Lice Eradication Campaign in 1987. In Western Australia, more than 82,000 lots of wool submitted under 11,400 wool bale brands are tested each year. More than 80 per cent of these brands have been identified to wool growers.

Presently, each Western Australian wool grower contributes about $45 a year towards the cost of conducting 82, 000 tests. Expressed another way, it costs about 1.5 cents per head to test for lice in sheep.