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Effects on cattle of artificial infestations with the tick Rhipicephalus appendiculatus

  • J. J. De Castro (a1), M. P. Cunningham (a1), T. T. Dolan (a2), R. D. Dransfield (a1), R. M. Newson (a1) and A. S. Young (a2)...

Groups of ten cattle were exposed to 0, 40 and 400 adult Rhipicephalus appendiculatus feeding once a week for 24 weeks. Although no differences in cumulative percentage weight gain were found at the end of the experiment, animals free of ticks performed better during the first 12 weeks. A marked recovery of the 400-tick group was recorded during weeks 13–24 and after ticks were removed. Haemoglobin and packed cell volume values were lowered in tick-infested animals but no clear trends were observed in red and white blood cells. No differences between the percentages of ticks feeding in the 2 tick-infested groups on day 2 were observed but higher numbers of females were feeding on the 40-tick group on day 5. More ticks were found on day 5 after tick application to the cattle during weeks 1–6 than in the rest of the experiment. Significant correlations were found between lymph node enlargement and ear damage when they were tested against tick load. R. appendiculatus nymphs feeding on the formerly tick-infested cattle were fewer, lighter and engorged in a shorter time than those on the control animals. The possible causes for the reduction in ticks feeding, the changes in cattle weights, blood composition and development of host resistance are discussed.

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