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Australia's resource for control of worms, flies and lice in sheep,
and worms in goats

Fast Fact

Worms can sometimes result in a concussion

Introduction by Paul Nilon, Nilon Farm Health

Brain involvement from animal worms gone astray in the human body is not uncommon. A previous column referenced the pig tapeworm (Taenia solium) causing seizures in an orthodox Jewish community (here's a good summary). Reactivated Toxoplasma cysts can cause a range of encephalopathies in immunocompromised people, and dog and cat roundworm larvae (Toxocara spp) may cause central nervous system damage during their parasitic wanderings.

I was once concussed as a result of worms. It was at Sunday mass when I received a mighty clout from Rev. Sister Clare (not the only one I might add) for scratching my fundament with gusto. I now speculate that the itching was caused by pinworm (Enterobius spp), which is probably the most common human worm infection in our Listeria-infected western world. They rarely cause much damage, unless the infected is proximate to an outraged nun.

Feature articles

It’s time to get "Angry" about flies

Introduction by Paul Nilon, Nilon Farm Health

Readers know I’ve been banging the drum about selecting sheep for flystrike resistance and have referenced Geoff Lyndon’s excellent presentation at the 2018 ParaBoss conference on several occasions. Another take on this emerging issue is John "Angry" Webb Ware’s podcast/Wormcast. As a Mackinnon consultant for about 33 years, nobody has accumulated more knowledge than Angry on all aspects of the sheep industries and the information in here is second to none. While you can listen to the whole, in the first 10 minutes, Angry details the essential characteristics to be targeting in our breeding objectives to reduce flystrike risk. >> Read more.

Where have all the lice gone, long time parting?

by Paul Nilon, Nilon Farm Health

If you share my grey hair you might also remember the 1960s PP&M classic, which is the inspiration for this piece.

A client rang to say he had lice in his sheep. Both he and his manager had seen them scuttle away when parting the fleece. A consultation was scheduled to discuss treatment options. As rubby sheep were in the yards, I took the opportunity to refresh my arcane fetish for finding lice, however... >> Read more.

Worms: the big picture

Introduction by Paul Nilon, Nilon Farm Health

All advisers will tell you that 95% or more of worm questions are about drenching: triggers, timing, and products. While acknowledging that drenching is the basis of worm control, it’s time we took a step back to consider the big picture. Integrated Pest Management (IPM) should be the basis of both fly and worm control (lice are more a case of biosecurity and napalm). IPM for worms involves managing the worms in sheep and on pasture to reduce drench reliance. It’s been talked about for 45 years (remember the Golden Book: Epidemiology and Control of Gastrointestinal Parasites of Sheep in Australia; CSIRO 1975). Now we need action!

This column has referenced Messrs Webb Ware, Besier and Kahn's presentation on the topic. It’s an excellent information-dense presentation. But here is another review in an easy-to-listen-to podcast from our own Susan and Ian. >> Read more.

Back to basics with grazing management

Introduction by Paul Nilon, Nilon Farm Health

I’ve found that encouraging sheep producers to adopt IPM strategies has been a long, hard road. I'm hoping it might be somewhat easier for goat owners. Given that goats suffer mightily from worm infections, and that limited treatment options may be further reduced by resistance, nothing becomes more important to goat producers than grazing management. Check out this page for a summary of principles. Particularly take note of the section on rotational grazing. Rotational grazing is designed to maximise feed production. In the process, it sometimes maximises animal production as well. However, with few exceptions and despite claims to the contrary, it rarely benefits scour worm status, but if done carefully, with concern for appropriate graze, rest and auto-infection periods, it can be successful against barber's pole worm.  >> Read more.

The microscopic, but distinctive, pinworm eggs appear flattened on one side.
Wormcast: worm control as you move away from mulesing.
Integrated parasite management has been talked about since 1975.
Checking 20 partings on at least 20 and up to 40 sheep requires a big investment in time.