Australia’s Veterinary Medicines Authority has registered the world’s first oral product for managing lice in sheep.

Lice is estimated to cost the Australian sheep industry around $123 million, and now, for the first time, farmers are not bound to shearing time to effectively treat their flock.

FLEXOLT, a first-of-its-kind oral lice treatment for sheep, giving Australian sheep farmers ultimate flexibility when it comes to treating their flock, has been registered for use in Australia.

The world-first product can be used on both sheep and lambs, with any length of wool, revolutionising how farmers can administer a sheep lice product.

Current lice treatment products are applied externally after shearing; however, with FLEXOLT, a new method of administration is available – a single oral dose – giving farmers a greater choice.

FLEXOLT means farmers can strategically treat their flock for lice at any time, such as pre-lambing, when lambs are at foot or when new stock is brought onto the farm.

Coopers technical lead and veterinarian, Dr Jane Morrison said the breakthrough product will transform on-farm practices for Australian sheep and wool producers.

“FLEXOLT works systemically, from the inside out; therefore, lice control is not affected by length of wool,” Dr Morrison said.

“In practice, this means that farmers can treat off-shears, short and long wool sheep, and lambs with one oral dose.

“It means farmers are no longer bound to shearing time for effective lice control, allowing sheep producers to choose any timepoint right across their farming calendar that best suits their operation.”

FLEXOLT is a first-of-its-kind oral lice treatment for sheep. Photo: Contributed

MSD Animal Health Australia’s ruminant business unit lead, Jane Parker, said Coopers was a trusted brand with a long history of innovation in the sheep lice segment and for MSD Animal Health.

“FLEXOLT represents another milestone in bringing new active ingredients to new species of animals,” Ms Parker said.

“We were thrilled when FLEXOLT was registered by the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority, and are working hard to bring this product to market as soon as possible.

“This product is pure innovation.”

Chief executive of WoolProducers Australia, Jo Hall, said the product will be a game changer for Australia’s $3.5 billion sheep industry.

“Lice is a significant production and animal health issue for the Australian wool industry,” she said.

“One that’s estimated to cost the Australian sheep industry around $123 million per year through disease control and production losses.

“Shearing is a very busy time, particularly when you add the critical animal health management treatments of lice control.

“Allowing farmers to treat for lice when they want has real benefits in terms of managing labour, optimising on-farm performance.

“Every sheep flock could have a lice outbreak at some point, but by giving farmers more control over the way they manage this issue with the addition of a new tool, this will help make on-farm processes more efficient and increase the health of their flock.

“WoolProducers Australia is extremely supportive of the innovative product released by Coopers and MSD Animal Health; its importance to the industry cannot be understated.”