With the game industry having become a tempting option, more and more farmers who are expanding their operations want to either complement their farming enterprises with a game branch, or switch entirely to game.
Some unique challenges accompany game farming, but luckily many of the concepts applicable to the livestock industry, can be implemented in game farming. A common challenge game farmers face, is controlling parasites, especially ticks.
Disruption of the natural state
Although game is adapted to their natural habitat in order to survive in balance with parasites, the natural state has been disrupted by various factors:
- Keeping game in an unnatural habitat. An example is moving oryx and springbuck (both adapted to dry conditions) to a Bushveld area.
- Exceeding the carrying capacity of the veld by keeping too many game species per square metre.
- Accompanying overgrazing, resulting in a decline in the quality and amount of grazing, and a decline in the condition and immunity of game.
- Restricting the natural migration patterns of animals, thus preventing them from moving away from problem areas, which results in an increase in parasites on this grazing.
- Prevention of natural selection. Animals with low immunity and a resultant heavy tick load, will naturally see weaker individuals caught by predators. The genetics of these weaker animals are continued.
Heavier tick load
The above factors have led to an increase in the tick load on game. Especially two tick species play a major role – the bont tick and the brown-ear tick. Both occur in the northern and eastern parts of the country, as well as southward along the coast.
They are found mostly in bushy areas or Bushveld biomes. They are sensitive to frost and drought, and are therefore not found in the cold and extremely dry areas of South Africa. However, bear in mind that climate change and movement of animals bring ticks to new areas.
Farmers are forced to intervene for various reasons:
- Bont ticks cause large wounds, secondary bacterial infection and maggot infestation (screwworm). This tick can also transfer heartwater and species that are not adapted to Bushveld conditions are especially susceptible to the disease.
- Bont ticks attach to hairless areas around the anus, testes, sheath, udder and teats. The damage caused can result in reproduction losses.
- Brown-ear ticks are responsible for bleeding ear syndrome and can cause game to lose their outer ears entirely. The animals are then susceptible to secondary bacterial infection and screworm infestation. This tick transfers the Theileria parasite. Theileriosis occurs in certain game as a carrier state and can be transferred to cattle. It can also lead to corridor disease.
- A massive drop in production and animal condition then leads to poor production performance.
A new weapon
An exciting new product that can overcome these problems, is now available commercially. Afrivet Redline Acaricidal Balls contain flumethrin (similar to the active ingredient in Coopers Redline pour-on). Flumethrin kills ticks and sterilises female ticks, preventing them from laying eggs.
Afrivet Redline Acaricidal Balls are available in two strengths, namely 5% and 10%, for the treatment of ticks on different sizes game. The balls contain a colourant to identify animals that have been treated. The 5% treatment is coloured red and the 10% green.
The balls are applied by a marker (paintball gun) from a maximum distance of 60 metres. Spot treatment is possible by placing the ball either on the neck (specifically for brown ear tick control) or on the hindquarter (for bont tick control). A higher dose can be used for full-body tick control.
Table 1: Recommended dose of Afrivet Redline Acaricidal Balls.
|Total control||Spot treatment|
Afrivet Redline Acaricidal Balls are compatible with vultures and oxpeckers. The gel capsule in which the flumethrin is packaged is an environmentally friendly gel that is degradable in the environment.
Afrivet Redline Acaricidal Balls are available at the nearest co-op or through your local Afrivet agent. Markers for application of the balls are also supplied by Afrivet and can be obtained through co-ops. – Dr Sumari Potgieter, Afrivet