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ParaBoss News - January 2020 - Feature Articles

Respected, old, but still valuable, sources of veterinary parasite information
Respected, old, but still valuable, sources of veterinary parasite information
Flat spirals of the stomach fluke snail
Flat spirals of the stomach fluke snail
A lice infection can severely reduce the value of the clip
A lice infection can severely reduce the value of the clip
FAMACHA is a method for assessing the effect of a barber's pole burden on the host
FAMACHA is a method for assessing the effect of a barber's pole burden on the host

Fast Fact

Sources of parasite information 

Introduction by Paul NIlon, Nilon Farm Health

When readers want information they go to ParaBoss. Of course they do! Those who write for PB rely on a few journals and an occasional conference to stay current. The thing is that the world of applied wormology does not change at a startling pace (unlike, for example, changes in cancer therapy). While hard-copy texts are not turned out as regularly as they once were (my copy of Veterinary Parasitology by Taylor et al., is from 2007), it’s important to have a few archived books to check the things that have passed into oblivion. Recently, I fielded an enquiry about Bayer Mansonil, and I could not remember the active. Out came the 1970s edition of the Veterinary Physicians Index (Hungerford, 1970), in which I found the active (niclosamide) and a dose rate. Want to dose the cattle with Blue-nic? VPI is your text. This book cost $25 in 1970 (approximately the value of a kidney). Attached is a pic of a small collection of reference texts that occasionally get dusted off for an obscure search, or just for the heck of it. We stand on the shoulders of giants.

Feature articles

Scouring with blood 

Introduction by Paul NIlon, Nilon Farm Health

When we see this we immediately think of salmonellosis or perhaps coccidiosis (the most over-diagnosed disease in the sheep world). Another possibility is stomach fluke (paramphistomes). Like liver fluke, they have a multistage life cycle with a water snail as the intermediate host, although it is a different snail to that which sustains liver fluke. The adult fluke lives in the fore-stomachs and is quite harmless. Immature fluke live in the upper small intestine and if present in sufficient numbers can cause severe, sometimes haemorrhagic, diarrhoea in sheep, goats and cattle. >> Read more.

The overlooked risks of body strike

Introduction by Paul NIlon, Nilon Farm Health 

Most of the commentary in this column concerns reducing the risk of breech strike by breeding for reduced wrinkle and cover, getting the tail length right, reducing dags, and breech modification (see, I didn’t use the M word). While body strike is not as important, it cannot be neglected. The major risks for body strike are fleece rot and dermo, both of which can be examined here. However, do not forget the other risk factors, which include, but are not limited to:

  • Footrot: manky feet that deposit potent fly attractants along the ribs leading to strike.
  • Body condition: fat meat sheep have backs you can land a helicopter on. Unseasonal rain can make the helipad a bit swampy and attract flies. It happens more often than you may believe.
  • Irrigation: lambs don’t mind lying around in moist legume after the irrigator has passed. Flies sometimes follow.
  • Shearing cuts and dog bites. Most cuts heal quickly and cleanly, but those that involve deeper tissues and ooze serum may be prone to strike. Similarly, over-enthusiastic dogs leaving weeping puncture wounds can cause flystrike. >> Read more.

Living next door to Claude

Introduction by Paul NIlon, Nilon Farm Health

Sheep traders come in a few varieties. Dedicated lamb finishers, some of whom turn over tens of thousands of lambs, usually have their own biosecurity plans to limit disease and parasite ingress (not just to get an auditor’s tick). I’ll opine that these guys usually have good infrastructure and they often have their own breeding flocks, so lice is a high priority. One client has sent sheep back if they come off the truck lame or rubby.

More problematic is the Claude Greengrass character who buys the dregs at the local sale yards. Infrastructure is often a second priority and lice (and footrot) are part of trading. Their M.O. is “share the love”. These guys are a constant threat and need to be taken seriously.

The fleece value of cross-bred (XB) flocks is such that lice incursions are just another variable cost. Some clients put $2–3 for lice control into their annual budgets. That’s fine, but remember that those lousy sheep may also bring footrot. Even resistant breeds can have their feet knocked off by a hot strain. At the least, you should be reading Jenny Cotter's article on monitoring.

Merino flocks are a different proposition. A lice infection can severely ruin the clip value (and footrot is devastating in Merino flocks). You should consider double fencing and, as far as possible, keep low-value mobs on your boundary with a trader. Put a lot of effort into monitoring: look over the fence to see what is there and inspect your sheep in a structured fashion. >> Read more.

Balancing resistance management and the need to drench

Introduction by Paul NIlon, Nilon Farm Health

The people at Novartis (now Elanco) have recently learnt that the laboratory is not the place to check a new drench for resistance robustness. In the lab, they failed to produce resistance to Zolvix, but when drenched to goats on-farm, resistance emerged. Goat producers already had enough to contend with as their animals are vulnerable to worms and few drench products are registered for use in goats.

The FAMACHA system is a semi-quantitative method of assessing the effect of a barber’s pole worm burden by checking the colour of the mucous membranes inside the lower eyelid on the host and therefore whether drenching is required. Although it is labour intensive, many goat herds are small and so it should not be dismissed as too hard. Importantly, it means that individual animals can be treated rather than the whole mob. This greatly reduces drench use and the likelihood of resistance—especially because not all goats will need to be drenched at the same time and this maintains the less-resistant worms in refugia. Check out the rubric. >> Read more.

ParaBoss podcasts

Wormcast Episode 3. What happens when you take your finger off the pulse?

How serious can omitting an effective quarantine drench be? Find out when Susan Swaney and Ian Campbell explain what happened on their own farm when a whole new species of worm came to stay. 

For January 2020 state outlooks, please follow the links below:

New South Wales
Western Australia
South Australia