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New South Wales worms, flies and lice update - July 2019

NSW LOCAL LAND SERVICES

Central West LLS

Coonamble: Jillian Kelly, DV (jillian.kelly@lls.nsw.gov.au)

Ongoing dry and cold conditions mean that very few worm tests have been performed in the Coonamble district. Very few fly burdens have been seen either. Producers are continuing to drought feed, and it is estimated that there has been a 50% reduction in stock numbers across the district. Producers are warned to be vigilant for worms and flies if spring or summer rain is received as burdens will increase opportunistically despite the long dry spell.

Forbes: Nik Cronin, DV (nik.cronin@lls.nsw.gov.au) and Belinda Edmonstone, DV (belinda.edmonstone@lls.nsw.gov.au)

Very few worm tests have been seen over the previous few months in the Forbes district, and of the few that have been conducted, worm egg counts are low. 

Producers are advised to continue monitoring before reaching for the drench gun in the most susceptible sheep groups, namely pre-lambing ewes, and lambs at weaning. Collect faecal samples from these mobs and submit for a worm egg count to determine whether or not a drench is required. 

North West LLS

Narrabri / Walgett: Megan Davies, DV (megan.davies@lls.nsw.gov.au) and Judy Ellem, DV (judy.ellem@lls.nsw.gov.au)

No worm tests were received in the last month and as it is very dry, there is not a lot to report. Sheep numbers are well down and there's certainly no feed.

Fingers crossed for abundant feed (and worms...) by the next outlook. 

Murray LLS

Holbrook: Eve Hall, DV (eve.hall@lls.nsw.gov.au)

In comparison to the rest of the state, things are looking pretty reasonable in the more eastern parts of the Murray region. Annual rainfall to July for Holbrook was at 268.9mm, still below the average of 391.3mm to July, but certainly, enough to see good growth in the paddocks particularly as winter temperatures have been milder.

Most problems with stock have been largely associated with green feed (bloat, nitrates, calcium, and or magnesium deficiencies). Local WormTest results have been generally low.

Going forward, producers with spring lambing ewes should be factoring in worm tests before giving pre-lambing drenches, and those with autumn lambs should be considering low-worm risk paddocks for weaning.

Deniliquin: Scott Ison, DV (scott.ison@lls.nsw.gov.au) and Linda Searle, DV (linda.searle@lls.nsw.gov.au)

Deniliquin has, so far, had 160mm rainfall for 2019, slightly below the average of 196mm. There is short green pasture across the majority of the region. Temperatures have been about average and borderline for larval activity on pasture.

Short green feed, some warmer weather, and the low body condition of sheep could put flocks at risk of high worm burdens now, or in the near future. Drench history and mob management, including the use of containment areas, will be big factors when it comes to worm burdens.

Recent WormTest results from a mob of ewes had an average of 120 eggs per gram with 84% black scour worm and 16% brown stomach worm in the larval culture. Another mob with signs of a high worm burden including scour and weight loss, and with only a partial response to drenching, is currently under investigation.

South East LLS

Braidwood: Lou Baskind, DV (lou.baskind@lls.nsw.gov.au)

Winter has finally arrived in Braidwood, with our coldest night so far down to minus 5.9℃. Days are still mild though, with the average maximum temperature at 12.3℃ and a couple of days reaching 16℃. We haven’t seen a lot of moisture; recorded precipitation has been mostly been from mists and frosts. Rainfall recorded so far for July is less than 10mm.

Worm tests for commercial sheep enterprises are showing strongyles ranging from 80 to 440 eggs per gram, with barber’s pole still the main player by far. The high end of those counts is approaching the thresholds for drenching in lambs and pre-lambing ewes. A lot will depend on the nutritional state of the animals, and the pasture and feeding conditions while we continue to be drought-affected. Poor nutrition will decrease immunity to worms. 

The cold change and frosts will have significantly reduced the rate of barber’s pole eggs hatching, but with daily maximum temperatures predicted to remain above average for the whole of August, barber’s pole may persist throughout the winter. Also, worm larvae on pasture that hatched before the cold remain viable even through the frosts. Keep doing Wormtests every 4–6 weeks, especially for high-risk classes such as young, pregnant or low body condition animals. 

Liver fluke in cattle has been diagnosed in a mob of growing steers showing signs of poor growth and rough hair coat, and also in a mob of cows showing no visible signs at all. These mobs were from vastly different properties. Both mobs had high levels of infection on blood tests, and the steer mob had a worm test that showed liver fluke eggs. The cow mob were from a property that historically hasn't seen evidence of liver fluke. The newly detected infection may be due to forced changes in grazing management in these tough seasonal conditions.

Yass: Fiona Kelk, DV (fiona.kelk@lls.nsw.gov.au) and Alexandra Stephens, DV (alexandra.stephens@lls.nsw.gov.au

In the Yass region, it is a critical time to monitor for worm egg count levels, for both scour worms and barber's pole worms, in the weaners and ewes pre-lambing.

Counts have been quite variable, ranging from below 50 eggs per gram (epg) on some properties to over 800 epg on others. The higher counts are notable as in many cases, the sheep had been drenched in late autumn, but have become reinfected with barber’s pole worm from larvae hatched over the late autumn/winter period. It is important to remember this as these worms may be causing ill thrift and anaemia without scouring. Anaemia can also make sheep more prone to nutritional and cold stress, and it particularly affected sheep during the last cold snap. It is also essential that they receive an effective drench before the weather warms again in spring, and are also rotated to safer pastures to try to control the barber's pole life cycle this coming spring.

Berry: Evelyn Walker, DV (evelyn.walker@lls.nsw.gov.au)

Barber's pole worm is still present in sheep in the Shoalhaven LGA area. On one property, sporadic deaths were seen in weaner lambs 4 to 5 months after drenching, but not in older ewes. No signs of bottle jaw were present. Drench resistance is possible given the long term and repeated use of Macrocyclic Lactone drenches on the farm. This is a reminder of the value of doing pre- and post-drench (before and after drenching) worm egg counts, i.e. DrenchCheck. This way, it is possible to see if the drench was effective.

Also, adult cattle in the local area are currently showing visual signs of liver fluke such as bottle jaw, and poor utilisation of available feed. If you have cattle, don't wait until you see obvious symptoms before you do anything. The other thing that might be surprising to some is that you don't have to have the really wet areas, access to dams, or really swampy areas that people typically associate with fluke-like environments. Fluke has been seen on properties with little rain, minimal ground cover and even on town-supplied water sources. There are tests available such as fluke egg counts and blood tests to see whether fluke may be a problem in your herd. Talk to your local veterinarian or district veterinarian about the best approach for on-farm testing ideally before it becomes a problem.