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External parasites

External parasite R&D overview

MLA invests in research and development (R&D) to manage external parasites to improve the health and wellbeing of livestock. 

External parasites, such as flies, ticks, lice and mites, cost the Australian livestock industry approximately $359 million a year in production losses, reduced animal health and decreased carcase yield.  

Improving producer knowledge and increasing the adoption of proven control measures for external parasites can prevent ongoing problems with animal welfare and productivity losses.

Core activities

MLA’s external parasite R&D involves:

  • extending the current ParaBoss online tool framework that helps producers manage parasite infestations
  • developing new tools and diagnostic methods for identifying external parasite infestation
  • integrating pest management principles to improve producer uptake of available methods and reduce reliance on chemicals
  • identifying animals that are inherently resistant or resilient against cattle tick, internal parasites and infectious diseases
  • developing a vaccine against ticks on cattle (cattle tick, scrub tick, wallaby tick and paralysis tick)
  • investigating Wolbachia as a potential, on-farm biological control method for buffalo flies
  • identifying alternatives to mulesing and blowfly control to address flystrike in sheep
  • improving on-farm infrastructure to increase biosecurity methods that manage and prevent the spread of ticks, lice and other parasites.

Benefits to industry

  • The control and eradication of parasites significantly increases the welfare and productivity of livestock by improving and maintaining their overall health. This, in turn, increases growth rates, reproductive success and the overall quality of life of livestock. 
  • Improved animal health also contributes to enhanced carcase quality, meat quality and overall yield and profitability of an enterprise.