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Queensland worms, flies and lice update - June 2019

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

Currently, the lack of rain is making life difficult for producers, livestock and worms.

There were some light showers in June, but not nearly enough to compensate for the lack of rain in the previous months. July is the beginning of the driest time of the year, and with the added stressors of poor nutrition and cold, sheep could struggle if their body condition is light as worms will make a greater impact.

Low minimum temperatures should be holding barber’s pole back, but there are always hot spots in long dry grasses where larvae can survive. Carefully examine sheep for signs of worms when they are in yards or hold them against a fence. Catch and examine 5–10 animals. If the inside of the eyelids and gums are pale, these are signs of chronic anaemia typically seen under prolonged dry conditions.

Preparation should be underway for lambing, such as deciding on which paddocks will have the best nutrition and the least amount of larval contamination.

Pre-lambing ewes should be worm tested about 3 weeks out from lambing to allow sufficient time to drench if necessary without mis-mothering, and without the risk of picking up another infection before lambing, although dry pastures won’t be carrying large numbers of larvae. However, “testing, not guessing” is still essential. Similarly, weaners, or at least some representative mobs of this age group, should be checked every month for worms.

So, if you are putting stock in the yards for some reason, WormTest first, as drenching could be an unnecessary waste of time and money and trigger selection of drench-resistant worms!