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A plunge dip is a construction set up that allows complete submerging of livestock in chemically treated water. It is an old but effective method of controlling external parasites among cattle and sheep is known as plunge dipping.
This method is widely used to mitigate economic losses that are instigated by ectoparasites, that live outside the host and have adverse effects on a farmer, such as loss of livestock to diseases caused by parasites.
However, inappropriate use of plunge dips reduces the effectiveness of controlling parasites.
External parasites treatable with plunge dipping:
Diseases associated with external parasites:
- Sheep scab
Chemicals used to counter external parasites, as regulated by Countries:
- Macrocyclic lactones
Basic training is given by extension officers and veterinarians prior to a plunge dip operation. Oftentimes, in a communal setup, people gather livestock and carry out this exercise on a stipulated day. Hence, teamwork ensures success.
Key aspects to take note of when operating a plunge dip
- Minimize entry of surface runoff water into a plunge dip in order to suppress dilution of the chemicals used as it reduces efficacy.
- Hence, modern plunge dips have covers/roofs that minimize evaporation.
- Routine dips are advised especially in summer months.
- Maintenance of plunge dips is essential, to suppress water loss from cracked walls which also minimizes contamination on the environment when chemicals sink into the soil.
- Appropriate marking on the wall that denotes the level of water prior to the exercise as this minimizes loss of water when livestock dive in.
- Regular cleaning of the dip, since mud and dirt accumulate at the base. With guidance from extension officers community members agree on when to clean the dip.
Plunge dipping can be stressful as serious injuries can be sustained, and traumatic on pregnant, young and weak/sick animals. Therefore, it is crucial to adhere to animal welfare and good handling when plunge dipping exercise is carried out.
Alongside the use of plunge dips farmers can make use of sprays, pour-ons, spot-ons and injections to control external parasites. Bearing in mind that chemical controls used in a plunge dip may trigger parasitic resistance, therefore, change upon approval is quite essential.
Recurrent drought triggered by climate change negatively affects the continuous use of plunge dips due to scarcity of water.
Record keeping, an essential managerial component encompasses plunge dipping date, volume before and after dipping, the total number of livestock dipped (cattle and sheep), amount of chemical used and fatalities if any during the process. Hence, this data can be added on a database application such as Farm4Trade Farm Management App, as an entry under record keeping.
In summary, responsible use by appropriate personnel ought to ensure that chemicals used in a plunge dip do not result in any harm of the health of the general public, animals, and contamination of the environment. Therefore, adhering to manufacturer instructions is strictly recommended.
- Sungirai M, Moyo D.Z, De Clercq P, Madder M. Communal farmers’ perceptions of tick-borne diseases affecting cattle and investigation of tick control methods practiced in Zimbabwe. Ticks Tick Borne Dis. 2016;7(1):1-9. doi:10.1016/j.ttbdis.2015.07.015