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Effects of Lice Infestation

What actually happens when my sheep get lice?

The presence of lice irritates the sheep, causing the sheep to bite, scratch and rub on trees and fences, damaging the pelt and wool. Woolly sheep infested with lice have an unkempt appearance – often with tags of wool hanging from the fleece.

Sheep lightly infested with lice usually show no clinical signs. However, as numbers increase, intense irritation develops. Sheep begin to rub against fences and other objects, and stomp with their feet. They also bite and pull at their wool. Physical trauma and the immune response triggered by lice may result in fleece matting, discolouration and damage. Lice can reduce the quality and yield of the fleece, and in fine woolled breeds, body lice are considered to be a major factor in affecting fleece quality and wool value.

Learn more about the three types of lice in New Zealand

sheep in the field