Tick infestation, and udder and teat damage in selected cattle herds of Matabeleland South, Zimbabwe

24 May 2010

A cross-sectional survey was conducted to determine tick infestation, and udder and teat damage in 286 lactating cows and heifers at six properties in the smallholder and commercial sectors in Gwanda district of Matabeleland South Province, Zimbabwe. Eight tick species were identified: Amblyomma hebraeum, Hyalomma truncatum, Hyalomma marginatum rufipes, Rhipicephalus evertsi evertsi, Rhipicephalus (Boophilus) decoloratus, Rhipicephalus appendiculatus, Rhipicephalus zambeziensis and Rhipicephalus simus. Overall, 81.5 % of the cattle were tick infested; prevalence of tick-infested cattle was significantly higher on communal land (93.8 %) and recently claimed land (85.1 %) than on commercial farms. The mean tick load on infested cattle on communal land was significantly higher than in the other two sectors. Although 53 % of the sampled cattle had some degree of udder and teat damage, very few farmers (2.6 %) treated their cattle for these conditions. Udder damage was ca. two times and three times, respectively, more likely to occur in cattle on communal land compared to cattle on recently claimed land and commercial farms. The occurrence of R. appendiculatus and R. zambeziensis indicate that the cattle population in the study area is at high risk of a theileriosis outbreak, a tick-borne disease that has not been reported from this area.