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Tick loads in cattle raised on sweet and sour rangelands in the low-input farming areas of South Africa

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The objective of this study was to compare tick loads and prevalence in Nguni and non-descript cattle in the sweet (palatable throughout the year) and sour (palatable only in the rainy season) communal rangelands of the Eastern Cape Province, South Africa. Engorged adult female ixodid ticks were collected and identified seasonally from 144 cattle raised on sweet and sour rangelands from August 2007 to April 2008. Three tick species were identified in the sweet and sour rangelands namely Rhipicephalus appendiculatus, Rhipicephalus (Boophilus) decoloratus, and Rhipicephalus evertsi evertsi with prevalences of 71.1%, 29.2%, and 40.2%, respectively. Hyalomma species (19.0%) occurred only in the sour rangeland. Higher tick counts were recorded in the hot–wet season than in the cool–dry season (P < 0.05). Cattle in the sweet rangeland had significantly lower tick loads than those in the sour rangeland in all the seasons except the hot–dry season. The Nguni breed had lower (P < 0.05) tick loads of R. appendiculatus in the hot–wet and post-rainy season and Hyalomma species in all seasons than the non-descript cattle. The use of a tick-resistant Nguni breed in the integrated control of ticks on cattle in the communal areas of South Africa is recommended.

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We thank the farmers from Magwiji and Cala who made their animals available to us and lent us their time. The help of the members of staff in the Department of Agriculture offices in Sterkspruit, Elliot and Cala is acknowledged. A special thank you goes to the staff and colleagues at the Department of Livestock and Pasture Sciences, University of Fort Hare who provided moral and intellectual support throughout the study. We sincerely value the Kellog–Nguni Project and the National Research Fund whose funding made this study possible.

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Correspondence to Michael Chimonyo.

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Marufu, M.C., Chimonyo, M., Mapiye, C. et al. Tick loads in cattle raised on sweet and sour rangelands in the low-input farming areas of South Africa. Trop Anim Health Prod 43, 307–313 (2011).

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  • Communal rangelands
  • Indigenous Nguni breed
  • Prevalence
  • Rhipicephalus appendiculatus