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Queensland worms, flies and lice update - November 2019

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

With temperatures consistently above 30°C and extremely dry conditions, the likelihood of barber’s pole eggs and larvae surviving on pasture is not good. As temperatures rise to 35°C and above, barber’s pole will surely not survive.

As always in Queensland, temperatures throughout the year mostly suit barber’s pole activity, except for those days when temperatures are consistently over 35°C, which, unfortunately, are becoming increasingly more frequent during summer.

It has always been that rainfall, and follow-up rain, were the missing ingredients for this parasite to thrive. So the few mm of rain expected to fall in the next few days is unlikely to cause a flurry of parasite activity, but you can never say never!

There are always some sheep that carry a low level of infection through the hard times. This infection serves as a reservoir for when favourable conditions return, but under current conditions, this low level of worm burden on top of under-nutrition will be contributing to chronic anaemia. Keep an eye out for any sheep lagging behind the group, or lethargic.

As many stock in the region are in very light condition, they are more susceptible to worms, and producers may have to consider drenching at lower worm egg count thresholds than they normally would. 

Regularly check goats managed under the smallholders management systems in northern and coastal regions for indications of worms, e.g. use the FAMACHA for anaemia, and body condition scores (dairy goats, meat goats) and faecal consistency scores for scour worms. Black scour worm, while not often a problem in Queensland, is a better survivor of dry conditions than barber’s pole and should be considered if there are areas on farm that are being irrigated and goats are scouring.