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

Pen card showing the WEC ASBV value
Pen card showing the WEC ASBV value
Flysrike tool allows you to test risk management options
Flysrike tool allows you to test risk management options
Browse keeps worm burdens lower. Image source: Cornell University.
Browse keeps worm burdens lower. Image source: Cornell University.
What are your biosecurity strategies?
What are your biosecurity strategies?
Sheep drenches may find a new role against cancer
Sheep drenches may find a new role against cancer
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Feature articles

by Deb Maxwell, Executive Officer, Paraboss

Resistant sheep can overcome drench-resistant worms

As worms become increasingly resistant to drenches, the logical thing is to breed sheep resistant to worms. It’s now about 20 years since Australian Sheep Breeding Values for worm egg count—the indicator of a sheep’s resistance to worms—were introduced. There are now many ram breeders nationally, across the major sheep breeds, regularly generating WEC ASBVs.

It is evident commercial producers see value in breeding for worm resistance as WEC ASBV is a price-setting trait at some ram sales. If your stud offers WEC ASBVs, but you haven’t yet started to use them, it’s easy to take on—look at their WEC ASBV figures and the more negative values are best; for example, –60 is better than –20, which is better than +20. >> Read more.

Flystrike risk graph simulations

Have you run any flystrike risk simulations on your annual flystrike risk graph on FlyBoss? Sixty advisors with ten farmers did just that at the recent ParaBoss workshop. Each group of six advisors worked as a team to gain skills in preparing parasite management calendars for the farmers who came from South Australia, Victoria and Tasmania.

The flystrike risk graphs are based on 30 years of weather records from BOM and the FlyBoss tool lets you see how your flystrike risk changes when you alter your shearing, crutching and treatment dates, the type of treatment used and even the mulesing status of the sheep. It’s quick and easy to use—just a couple of minutes. Whether you are an advisor or a farmer, why not give it a go now?

Follow this link, go to Location: choose your state and then location on the map, then choose Check flystrike risk and optimise treatment time. Once there, first click the calculate button to see your flystrike risk graph. Progressively add in your shearing, crutching and treatments, but press calculate with each addition to see how the risk changes. After calculating the risk change with a treatment, also go down further and click the Optimise timing of treatments button, which will move the treatment to the time that results in the greatest reduction in flystrike risk. You can continue to change options and re-calculate to see how flystrike risk changes. >> Read more.

Shearers: change at the door, please

After being caught out with a one-off lice-infestation after years of having a lice-free flock, a producer I recently met implemented a new policy for his shearers. While the vast majority of lice incursions are from strays or introduced sheep, occasionally they do come in with shearers. This producer already had a good biosecurity system in place with no strays and minimal introductions—just rams from a very reliable source—but had a team of shearers come directly from another shed where the sheep were very lousy. Months later, rubbing sheep and lice were evident, resulting in a costly exercise of premature shearing and treatment to ensure eradication. His new policy sees all shearers come with a complete fresh set of clothing—changing outside the shed—the moccasins are blitzed in the microwave and the gear is all treated before entry to the shed. What are your policies to keep lice out, particularly on introduced sheep and strays? >> Read more.

Movin’ on up: goats prefer browse

There’s plenty of goats on the coastal strip, and many of them will struggle with worms. While the eastern seaboard has been hard hit by drought, record rainfalls on the east coast for the start of 2020 will let the worms flourish again, even as we go into autumn. The warm weather and frequent rain in coastal areas right around Australia particularly favour barber’s pole worm, and an integrated management program is needed for long term success against this worm. In other words, throw everything you can at them. In particular, “browse”, a term used to describe edible plant foliage, such as trees, shrubs and bushes growing higher off the ground than a pasture, is an invaluable means to manage worm burdens in goats. Worm larvae rarely get more than 15 cm above the ground, so taller browse presents worm-free feed. >> Read more.

Fast Fact

Sheep drench as a cancer treatment?

Repurposing drugs is nothing new. Just look at Viagra—originally developed for hypertension and angina—it now serves a “higher” purpose.

Our humble BZs (benzimidazoles or white drenches) are now being used around the world as a "do it yourself" cancer treatment, started by Joe Tippens. But don't expect doctors to be on side; pharmaceutical companies can't be expected to spend the squillions of dollars on clinical trials required to convince doctors. These stable, safe and cheap-to-make drugs have been off-patent for decades so it would be impossible for a company to recoup their investment when other companies could simply sell the same drugs without paying for the trials. But smaller research projects—some quite old—confirm that fenbendazole and other BZs have tumour-suppressing effects. 

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