Bos Taurus Genetics Increases Risk of Ticks

AUSTRALIA - Northern beef producers who infuse British, European or exotic Bos taurus genetics into their herds run the risk of escalating problems with ticks and tick fever.
calendar icon 26 June 2012
clock icon 2 minute read

The first detailed study of the susceptibility of Wagyu, Senepol and Tuli cattle to tick fever has highlighted these breeds— and resultant composites with Bos indicus—would be severely affected if exposed to the disease.

Tick fever is caused by three organisms carried and transmitted to cattle by ticks. The disease is endemic in warm, humid areas of northern Australia. It costs the northern beef industry an estimated A$27 million annually in lost production and control measures.

Brahman-type Bos indicus cattle are known to be naturally more resistant than British and European Bos taurus breeds to the most common disease organism, Babesia bovis.

The MLA-funded breed susceptibility project confirmed this and showed that natural resistance declined rapidly as Bos taurus content increased in crossbreds or composites.

However, the project also found that more exotic-type Bos taurus breeds, such as Tuli, Senepol and Wagyu, were just as susceptible to Babesia bovis as European breeds.

All breeds of cattle, including pure Bos indicus, were found to be very susceptible to the tick fever disease organism Anaplasma marginale— but this accounts for only about 13 per cent of tick fever cases.

Queensland Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation’s Phillip Carter led the research project.

He said knowing the susceptibility of newer breeds to tick fever was crucial so that northern producers could better evaluate the risk to their herds and implement appropriate control measures.

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