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New South Wales worm, flies and lice update - May 2014

Armidale: Rad Nielsen, Veterinary Health Research (

Little change from last month - some properties still getting high counts, fluke is fairly prevalent.



Riverina LLS

Wagga Wagga: Amy Shergold, DV ( and Tony Morton, DV (

The warm wet autumn has brought with it some scattered cases of barbers pole worms. All the usual symptoms including unexpected deaths in sheep in good condition, anaemia (pale skin) and bottle jaw. This problem was reported by both the Gundagai and Wagga DVs.

Young: Rahul Shankar, DV ( and Eliz Braddon, DV (

Barber's pole worm infections have been on the rise in the area and have caught a few producers off-guard. One producer has had a re-visit by this worm mob after a 2 year hiatus. 

Average worm counts ranged from 0 to 1200 epg with the highest Haemonchus differentiation being 90%.

Producers were aptly reminded via our monthly chat with the local radio station to monitor worm counts and to drench where necessary, particularly those properties that have shown mectin based resistance in the drench survey conducted in 2011. 

South East LL

Goulburn: Bill Johnson, DV (

Barber's pole worm continues to catch some producers unawares. Otherwise healthy, fat adult sheep and lambs are dying suddenly or may be noticed with 'bottle jaw' before death. In some cases, owners have discounted worms as a possible cause, as the sheep were only drenched within the past couple of weeks, typically with either abamectin or albendazole.

Worm egg counts in other mobs also reflect the presence or absence of barber's pole worms across the district. Some producers last drenched in November and still have low worm egg counts, while counts in other mobs have hit the thousands within a couple of weeks.

Some of the worst affected mobs are where producers have heeded advice to ‘run pregnant ewes a bit harder’ to keep their bodyweight in check; over-fat ewes suffered significant losses from difficult birth (dystocia) and foot abscess under similar conditions a few years ago.

The complicating factor in this strategy at present is the presence of barber's pole worms on these short clover-dominant pastures. More frequent worm egg counts will alert you to the possibility of an impending problem, even though it would seem unnecessary to test these healthy-looking mobs.

Where your sheep continue to have low worm egg counts following an effective summer drench program, consider giving long-acting pre-lamb drenches a miss this year, to help preserve their future efficacy.

Yass: Alexandra Stephens, DV (

The worm counts in the Yass district are variable, even between properties on the same road. This is a result of differences in drenching history and pasture management. In general though, worm egg counts have been slow to rise this autumn, mainly as a result of the effectiveness of the summer drench combined with a very hot dry summer. Some properties have had deaths because of barber’s pole infection in the weaners despite drenching, and it seems that this has been because barber’s pole has high-grade mectin group resistance on these properties. 

In March, we saw some cattle with ill thrift as a result of picking up fluke from their intensive grazing of the greener creek lines over the dry summer. 

Cooma: Petrea Wait, DV (

On the Monaro we have had several Wormtests carried out with producers assessing the need for a second summer drench. Egg counts have ranged from zero to 2840 eggs per gram, with most counts in the mid hundreds. Those producers that made the most of the hot, dry summer, and gave their first summer drench onto a clean paddock have largely found that they did not need a second drench.

A good autumn break has seen plenty of pasture growth, and although several sheep mobs have had moderate to high counts, they have not shown any signs of worm infestation. Good nutrition appears to have helped these animals deal with their worm burdens, but it is still recommended to drench these mobs so that they can go into winter with a low worm burden, reducing pasture contamination prior to spring.

The wet and mild autumn conditions also allowed the barber’s pole numbers to spike, with one mob tested having counts up to 2680 in individual sheep, of which 93% were barber’s pole. Now that we have had a few good frosts and the days have become cooler the barber’s pole eggs and larvae numbers will be reducing on the pasture, but don't forget about the ones still inside the sheep.

Bega: Helen Schaefer, DV (

After the moisture we had more than 6 weeks ago (where has it gone?!) and the warm temperatures over the last couple of months, barber’s pole worms have been very busy, causing the occasional death from severe anaemia and high WECs. Trichostrongylus are also well and truly around causing the usual black scours and body condition loss. To give a typical example of how dramatically things can change on the worm front, a WEC on first cross ewes early March was 0 epg; 2 months later it was 1156 epg average (range 40–3600) with 67% Haemonchus, 25% Trichs, 7% Ostertagia.

We haven’t seen as many WECs done as is warranted after such a good early autumn, heading into winter. The message is: Now is the time! Pick up a free WEC test kit from your local LLS office, or we can post one out to you. Remember, in the interests of animal health and your hip pocket, you don’t want to be over-drenching or under-drenching. WECs take the guess work out. 

Central West LLS

Dubbo: Evelyn Walker, DV (

The worm egg counts for the Central West area especially Dubbo and surrounding areas including Wellington, Gilgandra, Peak Hill, Collie, and Dunedoo have risen dramatically this month; getting average egg counts of 1,000+ epg on some properties. One property had an average egg count of 5,064 epg in weaner lambs and another 10,000 epg in pregnant ewes. Larval culture revealed 98% barber's pole worm in these cases. Amazingly, no deaths occurred on either property and surprisingly the sheep appeared ‘ok’ to the producer. Although both needed a drench asap, plenty of feed and good quality pasture on both these properties likely boosted the sheep's immunity to worms. Every property is different. So, start worm testing your mobs now to see where your egg counts are at and whether a drench is required. 

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