Lice Control for Sheep: A Guide

Lice are common parasites in sheep. They are host-dependent parasites whose population can grow rapidly, affecting productivity. For instance, lice can affect the quantity and quality of wool production. In addition, sheep tend to spend less time grazing when infested with lice, further reducing productivity. Therefore, it's critical to identify the signs of lice infestation early enough for treatment purposes if you rear sheep. The lice infestation indicators to watch out for include wool or hair loss, rubbing, inflamed skin, wounds, intense itching, weight loss and licking. It's crucial to act fast when you notice such signs. Here are some of the lice control or treatment solutions for your sheep.

Chemical Products

Chemical products for treating lice in sheep come in several options. Insect growth regulators, organophosphates, macrocyclic lactones, synthetic pyrethroids and neonicotinoids are some of the standard chemical solutions for treating lice in sheep. However, you must be careful in choosing the correct option. First, these chemical products have different chemical compositions, residue consequences, application techniques, withholding periods, etc. In addition, chemical resistance is common with lice. That is, some chemicals have known resistance. Therefore, it would help to consult extensively on such matters when selecting chemical treatment products to ensure you get an option that will work best.


Dipping is one of the most effective ways to get rid of lice in sheep. However, you will need to make several considerations for your dipping remedies to be effective. First, it will help to consider the chemical treatment products you select if you want to use dipping as a treatment option. That's because some of these treatments can only be applied in specific methods. Therefore, ensure the chemical treatments you select can are applicable by dipping.

Dipping also works best post-shearing because long wool can make it harder and less effective to get the correct amount of chemical treatments onto the sheep's skins. Therefore, you can do this when the sheep is off-shears or in short wool. If you have pregnant ewes, dipping them before lambing can help minimise the risks of lice transfer onto the lambs.

It would help to avoid dipping hot and thirsty sheep to help keep them from consuming the chemical solution. Also, don't dip sheep with shearing cuts. Allow them to heal instead to minimise any infection risks. You can also consider keeping your sheep off feed before dipping to help minimise faecal contamination.

After dipping, use devices like water-activated pencils to check for adequate wetting. Proper wetting is crucial for perfect results. Any sheep that isn't wetted properly should be dipped again.

Flock Management

Lice typically spread through direct sheep to sheep contact. Therefore, it would help to manage your infested sheep properly to prevent spreading. Methods like proper fencing, avoiding split sheering and quarantining infested or new sheep until they are free of lice.

For more information on lice treatment for sheep, contact a professional near you.