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Effects of the sucking louse (Linognathus vituli) on the grooming behaviour of housed calves
  1. CA Weeks,
  2. CJ Nicol and
  3. RN Titchener
  1. Division of Animal Health and Husbandry, Department of Clinical Veterinary Science, Langford, Avon.


The behaviour of cattle with and without louse infestation was studied for eight weeks. Thirty-two crossbred calves were housed in groups of four at 20 weeks old. Sixteen of the calves were artificially infested with the long-nosed cattle louse Linognathus vituli and 16 were left uninfested as controls. In infested animals the number of lice on the shoulders averaged 2.3 per 10 cm length of parted hair. The recorded frequency of irritation, manifested by rubbing and self-licking, was significantly greater in the louse-infested calves than in the uninfested controls. The infested calves spent 28 s/h rubbing and 95 s/h self-licking, compared with 8 s and 62 s/h spent by the uninfested controls. The infested calves also spent more than twice as long scratching as the controls. There were no significant effects of the infestation on social grooming.

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