$3m grant to tackle northern Australia’s biggest cattle pests

Beef Central, 30/10/2017

A $3 million grant has been secured to fund the development of a new biological product to treat two of the northern beef industry’s most significant pests – cattle tick and buffalo fly.

The grant from the Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) for Developing Northern Australia project funding round will help fund the research being undertaken by Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) in partnership with Microbial Screening Technologies Pty Ltd (MST) and Macquarie University.

The three-year Probio-TICK project is aimed at developing a low-cost, chemical residue-free, microbial treatment applied to the hide of cattle to provide life-long protection against cattle tick and buffalo fly.

MLA’s Program Manager – Health Welfare and Biosecurity, Dr Jim Rothwell, said the successful development of Probio-TICK could offer many potential benefits for the northern beef industry including improved animal health and welfare outcomes, and a boost to productivity and profitability.

“Cattle tick and buffalo fly punch a big hole in the income of northern beef producers, costing $260 million per annum,” Dr Rothwell said.

“Failure to control ectoparasites like cattle tick and buffalo fly is a major road-block to improved quality, value and sustainability of the northern Australian cattle industry.

Project leader and MST Managing Director, Dr Ernest Lacey, said Probio-TICK would comprise a community of beneficial microbes applied to the hide of cattle.

“Probio-TICK applies the well-established science of human ‘inner-health’ probiotics to the ‘outer-health’ of cattle hides by boosting the animal’s innate resistance to pest invasion,” Dr Lacey said.

“The project has greatly expanded our existing research effort with Macquarie University’s Future Fellow, Dr Andrew Piggott, enabling another leading researcher, Dr Fei Liu and renowned scientist, Professor Peter Karuso to join the collaboration to provide the right blend of skills and experience.”

Projects funded under the Australian Government’s CRC-P program support industry-led collaborations to develop important new technologies that address serious industry problems.

This funding round was initiated as a stimulus in advance of the establishment of the CRC for Developing Northern Australia (CRCDNA). The project was recently announced by the Australian Government.

Source: MLA


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  1. Valmai Jones, 01/11/2017

    Three Day sickness causes huge losses to Industry in the North. While it can be spread by buffalo flies, it is also spread by other flying (biting) insects. There is a real need for a better treatment and also a cheaper treatment.

  2. John Gunthorpe, 01/11/2017

    We support Bernie English’s call for research funding for 3 day sickness to improve the quality of the current vaccine. This should be added to the existing programme and given priority over buffalo fly research.

  3. Bernie English, 31/10/2017

    Industry leaders need to recognise that three day sickness is a far more serious issue than buffalo fly to the northern beef industry
    The present vaccine is not fully effective with producers still losing cattle that have been vaccinated
    In certain years the deaths from 3 day can be over5% in growing cattle mobs
    At Lakeland downs we have recorded death rates of 10% in group growing steers
    There is a pressing. Need for industry to put valuable research dollars into developing an effective vaccine
    How many cattle die from buffalo fly

  4. Dr George Seifert, 31/10/2017

    We already have biological control…called tropically adapted tick resistant cattle !. How are these supposedly economic losses calculated and where is the source of this information ? To justify these public money expenditures we need credible information !

  5. david foote, 30/10/2017

    Success in this field will provide a significant opportunity for reduction of operating costs, reduction in animal production losses and significant opportunity to increase hide values. Lets hope the solution is not too far away.

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