Double down on lice protection

While dual-action drenches for worm control are widely accepted by sheep producers, there has not been a combination product for lice control – until now.

Fennec, Australia’s first dual-action lice treatment, also offers five weeks’ protection from reinfestation.

Fennec’s dual active ingredients, imidacloprid and abamectin, have given producers a new weapon in the war against lice which costs the industry $120 million a year.

Dr Yan Laurenson, senior research fellow with the School of Environmental and Rural Science at the University of New England, says using a double active is “the responsible thing to do”.

Dr Laurenson, whose research areas include parasite drug resistance, said the chances of lice developing resistance to two actives administered at the same time are “very, very small”.

“This is a step beyond using a traditional rotation, which may inadvertently allow resistance to build,” he said. “With lice, the goal is complete eradication. Any lice that may be resistant to the first active will be killed by the second active.”

Boehringer Ingelheim cattle and sheep technical manager Dr Gareth Kelly said the efficacy of Fennec’s dual action will resonate with sheep producers looking for a simple and easy-to-use treatment to eradicate lice and prevent wool cut losses.

“The combination offers sheep producers a solution to safeguard their flocks from lice and most importantly, preserve the efficacy of current actives for much longer,” he said.

“History has shown that sheep lice are highly capable of developing resistance to single-active lousicides. The use of a dual-action product can decrease the chance of resistance building up.”

“Imidacloprid and abamectin both cause paralysis of the lice, but studies have shown that the actives work in different ways. So, Fennec offers a two-pronged attack against lice.

“In addition, the actives do not have a common resistance pathway. This is important, as it is less likely that lice will develop resistance to both actives when used together than to one of them alone, which in turn can slow the onset of resistance on a farm.”

Dr Kelly said effective lice control is not just an economic consideration for the producer but also a big issue for the industry, so a product that can do the job effectively while keeping resistance at bay is a big step forward.

If left unchecked, sheep lice infestations can cause reductions in wool cut of up to one kilogram per head. They downgrade wool quality by reducing yield and increasing the amount of wool placed in inferior lines because of unscourable colour and cotting.

Fennec is quick acting and long lasting. Sheep are protected from reinfestation for five weeks after application, making it the longest-protecting knockdown pour-on on the market when applied within 24 hours of shearing.

“While the science behind Fennec is more complex, it is just as simple and easy to use as traditional pour-ons, but its dual active ingredients pack a much bigger punch,” Dr Kelly said.

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