Managing tick fever in cattle

Tick fever or 'red water' is a disease of cattle caused by blood parasites that are transmitted by the cattle tick (Boophilus microplus). The cost of a tick fever outbreak can be substantial.

Tick fever kills cattle. In Queensland, on average, about 5% of at-risk animals die during an outbreak. Pregnant animals may abort.

Sick cattle lose condition, which is especially important if cattle are ready for market. High fever may reduce bull fertility for up to one breeding season and treatment costs and vet bills can be expensive. Additional musters may be necessary.

Live cattle export markets might be lost for 6 to 12 months after a tick fever outbreak. This can be far more costly than the outbreak.

Milk production may decrease substantially, and some cows may 'dry up' for their whole lactation cycle.

By understanding the disease itself and the various disease-control strategies, you can implement management practices to minimise the risk in your situation.

This guide provides information about managing and controlling tick fever.