Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


MSU researchers run their fingers through wool looking for solutions

Marni Rolston likes to think of herself as giving little massages to the sheep that lay on the table in front of her.

She isn't really massaging Sheep #17, but the thought is more pleasant than admitting she's using her bare fingers to spread its wool and look for lice, the Montana State University research associate said recently at the Fort Ellis Research Center near Bozeman.

Two crews working under spotlights were counting lice as part of an eight-week study sponsored by the Montana Sheep Institute at MSU. Researchers said an increasing number of Montanans are reporting the African blue louse in their sheep. The purpose of the study is to see if a chemical that kills lice on cattle is effective on sheep. The product contains an insecticide and insect growth regulator.

Heavy infestations of African blue lice can hurt sheep and pocketbooks alike, said Hayes Goosey, research scientist in MSU's animal and range sciences department and one of four researchers leading the study. Montanans who sell sheep lose money because the external parasite competes for nutrients. The sheep don't gain weight like they should, and ewes that carry too many lice can have anemia. If they're pregnant or nursing, they have less food for their lambs.

Growers who raise sheep for wool also lose money. The sucking lice remove more blood than they can digest, so they excrete the undigested blood and that stains the wool. The lice also break wool strands, which is a result of nutrient deficiency.

Jack Lloyd, another researcher on the project, said the African blue louse has been found on sheep in Wyoming, Idaho and Utah, as well as Montana. Therefore, the experiment will serve more than Montanans.

"All of these states will benefit," said Lloyd, professor emeritus at the University of Wyoming and a veterinary entomologist for 38 years.

Other researchers on the project are Greg Johnson, MSU professor of veterinary entomology, and Rodney Kott, MSU Extension Sheep Specialist. Helping them are others from Johnson's lab; Brenda Robinson, manager of MSU's Wool Lab; and Reid Redden, research associate with the Montana Sheep Institute.

The study started Jan. 16 and uses 32 Rambouillet sheep borrowed from a Montana producer, Johnson said. All the sheep were less than a year old. Separated from other sheep at Fort Ellis, the sheep in this project are divided into four groups of eight animals each. One group received no treatment for lice. A second group received the recommended treatment. The third group received double the recommended treatment. The fourth group received double the recommended treatment, but in a diluted form. Treatment involves applying a liquid chemical directly on the skin for about six inches along the sheep's back. The chemical then moves to other parts of the sheep's body through the wool.

The crew's first inspection, coming four weeks after the experiment began, showed that Sheep #17 carried only about five lice. At the beginning of the project, it had 21 lice. Sheep #17 was in the untreated group.

The report for another untreated animal was much different. The crew found 171 lice on a shoulder, 20 on a loin, 86 on the neck, 140 on the back and 930 on the rib area of Sheep #12. With hands starting to discolor from dried blood and excreted by-products, the crew ended up finding about 1,500 lice on one side alone. After flipping the animal and inspecting the other side, they reported 2,459 in all.

"We don't know a lot about the lice, how it's distributed over the animal, so we're looking at different parts of the body on both sides of each animal," Johnson said. This experiment hasn't been done anywhere before on the African blue louse, he added.

The crews counted lice on 32 sheep in one day and found their hands dirty, but amazingly soft from lanolin in the wool. They weren't worried about carrying lice home with them, because the lice are species specific, Johnson said. They won't jump onto humans. Besides being found on sheep, the African blue louse uses goats as a host in the southwest United States. Californians have also reported infestations on deer.

After four more weeks, the lice crews will inspect the sheep again, Johnson said. The experiment will then be finished. The researchers will analyze the results and tell the company that made the product if it can add sheep to its label. The designation would make it legal to apply the product on sheep.

The study was funded largely by Kott and the Montana Sheep Institute.

Evelyn Boswell | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science:

nachricht “How trees coexist” – new findings from biodiversity research published in Nature Communications
22.03.2018 | Technische Universität Dresden

nachricht Earlier flowering of modern winter wheat cultivars
20.03.2018 | Georg-August-Universität Göttingen

All articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Researchers Discover New Anti-Cancer Protein

An international team of researchers has discovered a new anti-cancer protein. The protein, called LHPP, prevents the uncontrolled proliferation of cancer cells in the liver. The researchers led by Prof. Michael N. Hall from the Biozentrum, University of Basel, report in “Nature” that LHPP can also serve as a biomarker for the diagnosis and prognosis of liver cancer.

The incidence of liver cancer, also known as hepatocellular carcinoma, is steadily increasing. In the last twenty years, the number of cases has almost doubled...

Im Focus: Researchers at Fraunhofer monitor re-entry of Chinese space station Tiangong-1

In just a few weeks from now, the Chinese space station Tiangong-1 will re-enter the Earth's atmosphere where it will to a large extent burn up. It is possible that some debris will reach the Earth's surface. Tiangong-1 is orbiting the Earth uncontrolled at a speed of approx. 29,000 km/h.Currently the prognosis relating to the time of impact currently lies within a window of several days. The scientists at Fraunhofer FHR have already been monitoring Tiangong-1 for a number of weeks with their TIRA system, one of the most powerful space observation radars in the world, with a view to supporting the German Space Situational Awareness Center and the ESA with their re-entry forecasts.

Following the loss of radio contact with Tiangong-1 in 2016 and due to the low orbital height, it is now inevitable that the Chinese space station will...

Im Focus: Alliance „OLED Licht Forum“ – Key partner for OLED lighting solutions

Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP, provider of research and development services for OLED lighting solutions, announces the founding of the “OLED Licht Forum” and presents latest OLED design and lighting solutions during light+building, from March 18th – 23rd, 2018 in Frankfurt a.M./Germany, at booth no. F91 in Hall 4.0.

They are united in their passion for OLED (organic light emitting diodes) lighting with all of its unique facets and application possibilities. Thus experts in...

Im Focus: Mars' oceans formed early, possibly aided by massive volcanic eruptions

Oceans formed before Tharsis and evolved together, shaping climate history of Mars

A new scenario seeking to explain how Mars' putative oceans came and went over the last 4 billion years implies that the oceans formed several hundred million...

Im Focus: Tiny implants for cells are functional in vivo

For the first time, an interdisciplinary team from the University of Basel has succeeded in integrating artificial organelles into the cells of live zebrafish embryos. This innovative approach using artificial organelles as cellular implants offers new potential in treating a range of diseases, as the authors report in an article published in Nature Communications.

In the cells of higher organisms, organelles such as the nucleus or mitochondria perform a range of complex functions necessary for life. In the networks of...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

Modular safety concept increases flexibility in plant conversion

22.03.2018 | Trade Fair News

New interactive map shows climate change everywhere in world

22.03.2018 | Earth Sciences

New technologies and computing power to help strengthen population data

22.03.2018 | Earth Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>