9 November 2001

Lice gnaw away at leather profits

THE leather industry is losing potential product values of £15-20m/year due to lice damaging 70-75% of cattle hides, but many dairy and beef producers are unaware of lice infestation in their herds.

In a recent study by the British Leather Confederation, 20% of producers felt they had a lice problem in their cattle. However, on inspection, BLC staff found 60% of herds were infested.

The results were no surprise to BLC research scientist Phil Hadley. "Either cattle are not treated at housing – a time when lice populations typically explode, or re-infestation occurs due to ineffective treatment and poor bio-security arrangements.

"In-contact animals must be treated against lice at the same time otherwise infestation will be a continual problem," he adds.

Mr Hadley believes if the quality of domestic hides improved, demand for UK hides would increase, leading to a probable rise in the average price paid to producers for hides. &#42