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Tick Control in Deer

Tick Control in Deer

Have you ever seen one of these little bloodsuckers?

NZ has just one species of tick and luckily it doesn't carry any major diseases.  However, we are seeing increasingly more properties with tick problems, especially deer farms.

  • What's the problem?

Ticks suck blood and at the very least will cause irritation to the animals they attach to, as well as hide damage.

High infestations can kill lambs and fawns as each adult tick can remove up to one millilitre of blood. A fawn may have 200 adult ticks in its ears and a newborn fawn only has about 600 mls of blood. Calves or adult stock can suffer poor weight gains- as few as 28 adult ticks on a ewe hogget can decrease weight gain.

Ticks also cause considerable damage to the soft velvet antlers on stags as adult tick numbers will usually peak towards the end of the antler growing season and the antler, full of blood, is a good target for a bloodsucking insect.

  • When do we see ticks?

What you will usually see are adult ticks in Summer.  The adult tick waits, high up on grass, and climbs aboard a host when they brush past – that would be any warm blooded animal,including you!  They crawl up to an area the animal will have difficulty scratching or biting and begin to suck blood.

After about 7 days on the host, the engorged tick drops to the ground and lays up to 2000 eggs.  The larvae that hatch repeat the exercise in late summer but are so small they aren't usually seen.  The larvae drop off, once engorged, and moult to a nymph which overwinters and again seeks a host in spring.

  • Are ticks tough?

Yes, unfortunately.

They spend most of their lifecycle on the ground (nearly all year) and as our tick originated from Japan where snow lies on the ground for much of winter, they certainly don't mind cold.  Ticks also like warmth and humidity (like all insects) but the young stages are very susceptible to drying out in summer heat or dry.

And if you've tried to crunch one as it climbs up your leg, you'll know just how tough they are!

  • Controlling ticks

You are unlikely to get rid of ticks, although it is possible in some cases, so a control programme has a number of components…

  • Modifying the tick environment – minimise long rank pasture.
  • Possible pasture treatment – rarely done, except in exceptional circumstances.
  • Animal treatment.

There aren't many licensed tick treatments but a lot of options still exist, depending on which type of animal you run and when or where the tick problems are.

If you have a problem with ticks, please talk to one of our vets to discuss future control options.

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