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South Australia worms, flies and lice update - April 2018

SA WormBoss Worm Control Programs

SA WormBoss Drench Decision Guides





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

The dry autumn continues, although the Lower North, Adelaide Hills, Fleurieu Peninsula and South East did receive up to 30 mm during the second weekend in April. This has brought a green tinge to an otherwise dry and dusty landscape with limited ground cover after the extended dry period. Supplementary feeding with grain and hay has been in place for 2­–3 months and so this should have restricted worm burdens. But worm egg counts indicate otherwise, with most recent results indicating a need for a drench. These tests have been predominantly in ewes pre-lambing, which have not been drenched for many months and so reflect carryover burdens from last year rather than recently acquired ones. It also highlights the opportunistic nature of worms remaining inapparent until the autumn break to recommence their life cycle.

It is a delight to see that the sustained, good red meat and wool prices have focused the need for optimal health and reproductive management in sheep. This has seen a steady increase in the use of ultrasound to detect pregnancy and continued attention to fly and lice control. While there is no direct measure of the number of producers monitoring worm burdens in their flocks, there are many veterinary practices, resellers and agents offering this service across the state. Consultants and advisers estimate 30–40% of producers may do Worm Egg Count (WEC) monitoring periodically, but this is variable with district and season. Years such as this can be an exception where extended dry conditions and hand feeding may give the perception that worms are not an issue, whereas monitoring indicates otherwise. Now is certainly a time to promote the merits of WEC monitoring, as it should be an integral management strategy used by every sheep producer, throughout each year.