Preliminary investigations into the effect of ostrich feather lice (Struthiolipeurus struthionis) on production and leather quality
The effect of ostrich feather lice (Struthiolipeurus struthionis) on productivity and leather quality was investigated in the light of louse-related skin damage on other livestock species that seems similar to defects, called pitting, seen on ostrich skins. The occurrence and spread of feather lice on ostriches were also studied. Natural infestation of louse-free ostriches within a group mixed with louse-infested ostriches was achieved within 6 months. Lousiness was determined by visual counts on the body and feathers of the ostriches on five locations. There was a relatively low correlation between the number of lice observed on the live ostriches and the actual number of lice extracted from harvested wing feathers. However, it was demonstrated that lice obtained from feathers increased at a rate of 3.29 (s.e. = 1.34) lice per 100 g of feathers for an increase of one louse observed on the live birds in the paddock (R 2 = 0.23). Treatment with synthetic pyrethroid insecticides eradicated all lice. Louse infestation had no significant influence on growth or slaughter traits, while no causal relationship between louse infestation and pitting damage on the processed ostrich skins could be demonstrated. © 2012 CSIRO.