The study was conducted in a peri-urban agricultural system at Botshabelo, a city in the south-eastern
Free State. A questionnaire survey revealed that 88,5% of cattle farmers in the area experienced
problems related to ticks and tick-borne diseases. Because of the cost of commercial acaricides the
Botshabelo farmers use alternative, cheaper methods of tick control, including the application of used
engine oil. The specific aim of the study was to determine whether used engine oil can effectively control
ticks on cattle. From March to August 1996 the tick burdens of ten control animals and six animals treated
by their owner with used engine oil were compared. The total tick burdens for the 6 month period differed
significantly between the two experimental groups. The efficacy of the used engine oil on the treated
group varied between 15,1% and 64,8% with a mean of 38,1 %. Although commercial acaricides can
be more cost-effective, the application of used engine oil can be useful to reduce tick numbers on cattle
during periods of peak abundance. Another advantage is that the use of the oil will not influence existing
endemic stability to Anaplasma marginale and Babesia bigemina infections because of the residual tick
burdens after treatment.
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