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Queensland worms, flies and lice update - January 2016

Brisbane: Maxine Murphy, Veterinary Parasitologist (maxine@paraboss.com.au)

If your sheep are crowding onto patches of green pick along seepage areas or under taller dry grass, keep checking them for barber’s pole. Look for a tail group of stragglers. Check the colour of their lower inner eyelids (they should be red not pale pink or white) if you can handle them, or otherwise, look for reluctance to move on muster. Don’t force them to move. Drench them in the paddock if they are wormy.

(Editor’s note: When drenching weak or ill sheep left in the paddock, don’t use an organophosphate drench, e.g. Rametin.)

Worm burdens take about 4–6 weeks following rain to get going, and further showers over the next 4 weeks will ensure that population numbers explode. A green pick environment in summer favours barber’s pole development. Even though larvae are short lived when air temperatures are consistently over 35°C and evaporation rates are extreme, enough will survive on green areas to initiate the barber’s pole cycle.

As insurance, collect dung samples from a representative young mob that has been grazing green pick for 3–4 weeks. Even during very dry weather when the majority of pasture is poor, mobs of sheep on green pick are still at risk. Keep checking!