NSW WormBoss Worm Control Programs
NSW WormBoss Drench Decision Guides
Drought conditions continue in the Coonamble district with very patchy to no rain received. The vast majority of stock are being completely hand fed with herd and flock numbers well down from normal as producers destock. Worm activity in sheep is low to negligible due to the dry conditions.
Ostertagia burdens are still being found on post mortem in drought affected adult cattle, and cattle are still observed to be lousy, highlighting the negative impact of suboptimal nutrition on immune systems in cattle. The dust storms have been regular, and while fly numbers are low at the present moment, pink eye is an issue in cattle and sheep, especially early weaned animals.
Things are still extremely dry in the Forbes area and there have been few, if any, cases where worms have been causing issues in local sheep flocks. A WormTest is the best way to determine if worms are affecting production in your sheep. Consider conducting worm tests in advance to determine whether the first strategic summer drench is required this year.
Minimal worm testing has been occurring this month in sheep throughout the region and no clinical cases have been confirmed.
The results of the few tests that have been done have been quite variable with averages ranging from 48 eggs per gram (epg) to 2760 epg strongyle activity in ewe mobs. Only one sample returned activity for Nematodirus—the average count was 76 epg which is getting into the risk area to start impacting young sheep, and is likely a response to the shower activity in the region.
With the potential for lambs to be weaned, it is still recommended that all weaner sheep get a broad spectrum worm drench at weaning to ensure they have their best chance at growth moving forward. It is also advised to ensure a booster vaccination with 5 in1 or 6 in1 is given as well.
All other classes of stock should be worm tested (WormTest) to monitor the need for drenching. In areas that are very dry and have traditionally had good worm control there may be little need to drench some mobs. BUT don't assume that someone else's data is appropriate for you—do a worm egg count and check your own flock.
There hasn’t been any movement on the parasite front at this stage.
Over the past month, parts of the Northern Tablelands have received between 15 and 50 mm of rain. In western areas around Inverell the warmer days and higher soil temperatures have resulted in significant growth of sown oats that survived the autumn and winter. Lucerne has exploded. Response to rain in the higher areas will be much slower.
Rainfall has been patchy, and we are a long way off a "normal" season.
Current health problems in livestock are primarily the result of the green pick which is also a favoured habitat for infective worm larvae. We have seen pulpy kidney in both cattle and sheep, and ewes have stopped eating the hard feed provided and are preferring the lure of the green pick.
Not a lot to report this month. Worm egg counts mostly from the Moree to Narrabri region and west seem to be low. No counts have been seen from the northern slopes region. Warialda to Inverell has had some pretty good rain compared to other areas and, as temperatures are climbing, Haemonchus (barber’s pole worm) and trich (black scour worm) activity will be on the rise.
Investigations into pregnant and lactating ewe deaths have also revealed a problem with worm burdens. Pregnancy toxaemia has been the predominant cause of ewe losses, but the worm egg counts have been high and larval cultures have shown multiple worm species present including Haemonchus (barber’s pole worm), Trichostrongylus (black scour worm), Teladorsagia (brown stomach worm), and Trichuris (whip worm). In these cases the ewes had been brought together to be fed at self–feeders or on a trail.
The usual pre-lambing worm test and drench regimen seems to have been foregone.
In our current conditions, with ewes not having all their energy and nutritional needs met, and along with the relaxation of immunity in the ewes around lambing, worm burdens have significantly increased and contributed to the loss of lambing ewes.
At these times, the monitoring and management of worms is important for sheep being hand fed during the drought and in particular for the lambs that will be weaned in the coming months.
Producers are being encouraged to start checking (WormTest) for worms in their stock as there have been some falls of rain—not a lot, but there is green pick about—and so conditions are becoming ripe for infective larvae to be active out on pastures.
Twelve WormTests were conducted in the last month. Five had larval cultures and four of these reported barber’s pole populations are greater than 78%. The lowest individual worm egg count was 0 eggs per gram (epg) and the highest was 1200 epg. A count of 2560 epg was reported from another WormTest, but to date, the larval culture result has not become available. Worm egg counts on the remaining tests were low.
Stock are also stressed from confinement feeding. There could be a perfect storm here as barber’s pole has been present in stock throughout the winter and now, any eggs shed will contaminate the green pick that is also being actively chased by weakened stock.
With lamb marking coming up in many of the spring lambing enterprises in the South East, and ewes having been on short green pastures, many producers are getting worm egg counts done to check how the ewes and lambs are traveling.
Worm count results have been variable, but generally low to moderate, indicating a successful pre-lambing drench. Continued pressure is being exerted on stock both nutritionally and by grazing pressures resulting in grazing into the larval pickup zone close to the ground.
Some results have indicated a need to drench ewes while others have indicated that ewes should be right until lamb weaning. Cultures done on these checks are also proving valuable for detecting the potential for barber’s pole worm to cause problems should seasonal conditions again become favourable.
Barber’s pole worm is an emerging problem in the South East and this worm’s strength is that it is a prolific egg layer. Although conditions are not suitable for it now, its presence in worm egg counts warns us to be aware and to regularly monitor weather conditions and sheep faecal egg counts (WormTest). Should conditions become warm and wet (daily temperature maximums >18°C and >15 mm rain) with spring or summer storms, this worm can complete a worm cycle within 18 days and problems can rapidly escalate. This is particularly the case where pastures are still heavily contaminated with larvae from the previous autumn. Controlling this worm is about knowing that it is there and controlling larval build up on the pastures. This can be through grazing management/pasture rotation or the use of long acting drenches when required.
Your best tool in ensuring you stay on top of barber’s pole worm is 4–6 weekly faecal egg count monitoring. Kits can be obtained straight from EMAI or picked up from your local LLS office or your local rural merchandising store.
If you haven't checked your sheep flocks recently, now is a good time to do so with a WormTest check. Remember to drench based on levels of worm egg counts present in the flock. If you need help interpreting your worm tests in sheep or cattle, drop in or call the South East Local Land Services Berry office and I'll give you a hand.