Tick abundance and levels of infestation on cattle in response to patch burning
Document Type: Journal Article
Author(s): Victoria J. Polito; Kristen A. Baum; Mark E. Payton; Susan E. Little; Samuel D. Fuhlendorf; Mason V. Reichard
Publication Year: 2013

Cataloging Information

  • Amblyomma americanum
  • cattle
  • fire
  • grassland
  • grazing
  • Great Plains
  • Oklahoma
  • patch burn grazing
  • patch burning
  • population dynamics
  • ticks
Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: November 15, 2019
FRAMES Record Number: 15683


Patch burning (PB) uses frequent, spatially discrete fires throughout a pasture to create variation in the composition and structure of the plant community. The complex vegetation changes incurred from this type of burning regimen in addition to the focal grazing of cattle induced by PB should reduce tick populations by creating less favorable microhabitats. To determine if a reduction in tick populations occurred on PB pastures, three PB-treated pastures and three control pastures were used. PB pastures were divided into six subplots with one burned rotationally each spring and summer. Control pastures and each PB subplot had a burn interval of 3 yr. Pastures were dragged with 1-m2 flannel cloth panels to estimate tick abundance for 4 yr. (2006, 2007, 2009, and 2010). Infestation levels with ticks (i.e., tick burden) and weight for five calves and three cows per pasture were recorded once a month from April to October in 2009, 2010, and 2011. Differences in tick abundance between PB pastures and control pastures were not significant except in 2006 when fewer adult ticks were detected in PB pastures. A total of 13,609 ticks were observed on cattle. Animals on PB pastures had 4,028 (29.6%) ticks whereas 9,581 (70.4%) ticks were on cattle from control pastures. Tick burden was significantly reduced on animals in PB pastures compared to animals in control pastures in 4 out of 6 mo. Significant differences in average daily weight gain of calves in PB and control pastures were not detected. Although differences were not detected in questing tick abundance on pastures, significant reductions of tick burden on cattle in PB-treated pastures indicates that PB can be used to help control ticks in pastures.

Online Link(s):
Polito, Victoria J.; Baum, Kristen A.; Payton, Mark E.; Little, Susan E.; Fuhlendorf, Samuel D.; Reichard, Mason V. 2013. Tick abundance and levels of infestation on cattle in response to patch burning. Rangeland Ecology & Management 66(5):545-552.