World-first oral sheep lice treatment in stores next month

Terry Sim June 23, 2023

Coopers Animal Health technical advisor Dr Jim Walsh – oral sheep lice product in stores next month.

THE world’s first oral sheep lice product will be in Australian reseller stores next month, sheep producers were told at the 2023 BestWool BestLamb Conference in Bendigo this week.

Coopers Animal Health technical adviser Dr Jim Walsh said Flexolt’s active ingredient – Fluralaner — has been used for the long-acting control of ticks, fleas and mange in dogs.

He said there is no known resistance to Fluralaner and it has displayed excellent activity against sheep body lice through contact and feeding activity.

Dr Walsh said it is believed that up to 30-50 percent of sheep flocks in Australia have lice infestations, “that 70 percent of those properties will have lice in the following year,” and Meat & Livestock Australia has estimated the annual cost to the wool industry is $123 million.

Dr Walsh said Flexolt will be available in stores next month in 20 litre drums, and in a 5 litre container later.

“We’re currently going around training up stores.

“We aren’t quoting a price as such, because it’s really the stores that set the price.”

But Dr Walsh believes its pricing per liveweight will be comparable to other lice products on the market.

Dr Walsh said there are no wool withholding or re-handling periods for the product.

“You can actually treat them a week before you shear them.”

The product will have a meat withholding period of 14 days and an Export Slaughter Interval of 54 days. It is not to be used in ewes where milk is intended for human consumption.

He said the product will initially come with a special gun, graduated in 0.5ml increments up to 10ml and one ml increments between 10 to 15 ml, and an identification crayon applicators to mark sheep as they are treated.

“It is just about emphasising that 100pc of sheep 100pc of sheep is critical for control.”

The company has said Flexolt controls isoxazoline-susceptible lice (Bovicola ovis), including strains resistant to synthetic pyrethroids and insect growth regulators, on sheep and lambs with any length of wool. Trials have shown it to be effective on a wide range of sheep across a large number of studies including off-shears sheep, shorn sheep up to 7 days off-shears, unshorn lambs, sheep with short and long wool, and off-shears and long wool ewes with lambs at foot, Dr Walsh said. Lice control is not affected by rainfall before or after treatment.

The company is advising that sheep are not treated with Flexolt within four weeks of lambing to avoid cross contamination with lambs and reinfestation. At this stage, using Flexolt simultaneously or mixed with a worm drench is not recommended.

“There is actually trial work going on to work out whether they interfere with each other … we just don’t know at this stage.

“So at this stage we are saying, within 24 hours, so the thinking being do them in the afternoon (with Flexolt) and come back and do them with the other product the next morning.”

All other treatments — vaccinations, fly treatments, ear tagging — can be done with Flexolt, he said.

Dr Walsh said Flexolt is safe to use in rams and pregnant ewes with no impact on fertility. He said the product will have a three-year shelf life from date of manufacture, whether opened or not.


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