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Queensland worms, flies and lice update - December 2017

Texas: Noel O’Dempsey, Sheep Veterinary Consultant (odempseyn@gmail.com)

Doing your own Worm Egg Counting (WEC) is a great aid to your sheep management plan.

At a recent workshop where this technique was demonstrated to a group of sheep producers, five key points became obvious:

  • Nearly all sheep producers can learn to do their own WECs, especially for some reason the women, in a few hours.  
  • The importance of going home and practicing the technique to keep ‘your eye in’, and improve your speed.
  • The importance of checking your technique over time to ensure errors do not creep in, by getting an occasional check count done by an outside laboratory as well as identification of the worm species (larval culture) present.
  • The hardest samples to count are those with no worm eggs visible in the counting chamber—this can be a real test to your confidence in your technique.
  • Worm Egg Counting is useful for many more aspects in management than just ‘will I drench or not today?’. These aspects include:
  • closely monitoring mobs to determine the trend in WECs in the mob, when, for example you are busy with other work, but don’t want to get caught out if drenching is put off
  • prioritising drenching of different mobs; not all mobs will require drenching at the same time
  • recording the WECs on a paddock basis, and over time building up a picture of the ‘worminess’ or the level of larval contamination on the pasture in a particular paddock.

Toowoomba: Peter Lynch, Veterinary Consultant, Livestock Veterinary Services (peterlynch@shwds.com.au)

Queensland weather has been very inconsistent over the last few months. We experienced abnormally wet periods in spring in some areas while other areas are looking down the barrel of a seventh year of drought. Many areas have also experienced long periods of extreme heat. Very little survives prolonged days over 40oC. These conditions are having the expected effects on worm counts on many properties with larvae on pasture at very low levels. Rain from summer storms will increase the likelihood of transmission.

If you have had rain and have not drenched or done a WormTest, you should do one now. There have been high egg counts from properties that received limited rain because low-lying areas of green have created a high-density stocking situation.

Along with monitoring with worm egg counting, a 14 day post worming Drench-Check is also recommended as we are seeing some unexpected cases of drench resistance.

Merry Christmas to all and we pray for a wet 2018.