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South Australia worms, flies and lice update - August 2020

SA WormBoss Worm Control Programs

SA WormBoss Drench Decision Guides

Sheep

Goats

Sheep

Goats

Adelaide: Colin Trengove, Sheep Health Lecturer (UA Roseworthy campus) (trengovet@icloud.com)

Current worm counts generally reflect rainfall, with most classes of sheep having had counts high enough to warrant a drench in late July or early August in the >500 mm annual rainfall areas. In contrast, much of the Murray Mallee, lower, mid and upper north plus Yorke and Eyre Peninsulas have experienced scant rainfall in the last 2 months and WECs reflect this. Promising westerly fronts have moved across the State in recent weeks, but tend to slip south at the critical moment, leaving disappointed croppers and graziers alike. Parts of the upper north and pastoral region are in their fourth year of drought, while much of the cropping areas are in need of 20+ mm rain in August to achieve a reasonable harvest.

Economically, a dichotomy between lamb and wool prices has exacerbated the problems due to the lack of rain, but at least there have been good lamb marking percentages reported across much of the State. We just need a global upturn in the demand for wool. Despite this, a recent increase in worm monitoring indicates stockowner interest in the health, management and welfare of their flock. This no doubt coincides with weaning in autumn drop lambs and recognition of the importance of worm control at this time.

Another welfare consideration gaining traction is the use of “Numnuts” pain relief at lamb marking along with the now well-established use of Trisolfen at mulesing and Metacam or Buccalgesic for tailing and castration. Numnuts is a simple-to-use application of local anaesthetic into the base of the scrotum as a rubber ring is applied, enabling lambs to mother-up much quicker. The application both applies the ring and injects the local anaesthetic at the same time. Speak to your veterinarian/animal health advisor if you wish to find out more about these products and procedures.

It would be negligent not to mention the importance of performing a drench resistance test at weaning when there is an abundant immunologically naive population of lambs available to conduct the test. Despite the hive of activity at weaning with booster vaccinations and drenching, a few extra hours spent treating 100–150 lambs with different drench groups is a good investment to establish which are effective in your flock. This will enable formulation of your drench strategy for the next 3 years.

Finally, there have been recent reports of lamb scours in the upper south east, where worms have been eliminated as the cause. It highlights that other causes, such as mineral deficiencies, bacterial scours, plant toxins and malnutrition, also need to be considered when scours or poor growth rates are noticed. This will often require the assistance of a skilled animal health specialist to achieve a diagnosis, plus develop a treatment and prevention strategy. 

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