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South Australia worms, flies and lice update - April 2015

SA WormBoss Worm Control Programs

SA WormBoss Drench Decision Guides


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

Welcome rainfall ranging from 15–100 mm following Easter, particularly in the upper half of SA, has brought relief to sheep producers with most having been supplementary feeding since February. 

Worm egg counts (WECs) have correspondingly risen with 50% of counts in recent weeks indicating significant worm burdens around SA. Limited paddock feed and imminent lambing has necessitated drenching in most situations. At least autumn lambs will now have access to green feed early in life, but a drench at weaning will be essential given the likely worm pick up over ensuing weeks. 

It is equally important that ewes lambing June onwards also be monitored—both condition score and WEC—as grazing short green feed following the autumn break invariably leads to some loss of condition and increased risk of worm pick up. 

Many producers employ confinement feeding to reduce the total amount of supplementary feed required as well as allow paddock feed to establish before first grazing. This strategy has great benefit to both ewe and land management. However, it also requires a good knowledge of livestock nutrition and pasture agronomy—key skills that can be developed through interaction with livestock and pasture advisors, as well as courses such as Life Time Ewe and Weaner Management. 

Pregnancy scanning is also critical to strategic feeding especially during summer and autumn. Far too many ewes are lost each autumn due to under nutrition in the lead up to lambing as a result of stock owners failing to monitor ewe condition, worm burdens and/or appreciate the nutritional needs of pregnant ewes. Animal welfare alone should be sufficient incentive to address this deficiency in knowledge/management, not to mention the huge cost of each lamb and ewe lost as a result of this negligence. Lamb losses are inevitable but they can be minimised by good management. The continual rise in cost of production makes it imperative to address this to remain in livestock production.