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South Australia worms, flies and lice update - April 2020

SA WormBoss Worm Control Programs

SA WormBoss Drench Decision Guides





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

Social distancing with COVID-19 seems to have even put a dampener on worm counts, with fewer submissions and only a third exceeding 100 epg. Those submissions have been from lambs and mixed-age pregnant ewes in higher rainfall areas—especially the south east where conditions have been more favourable to worm survival.

The dry autumn continues statewide; although the lower Eyre Peninsula, mid and lower north, Adelaide hills, Fleurieu peninsula and SE did receive 20–30 mm in early April. This has brought a green tinge to an otherwise dry and dusty landscape with limited ground cover after the extended dry period. There was an isolated report of Haemonchus in a goat herd 2–3 weeks after the recent rain, but otherwise it’s quiet on the worm front. Supplementary feeding has continued on from summer, therefore, this is likely to have limited worm burdens and monitoring.

ParaBoss ran a highly successful and fully subscribed training day for advisers in Adelaide in March that we hope will bolster the knowledge and enthusiasm toward parasite control across southern Australia. It certainly addressed all the current issues and thinking in this field with the only disappointment being a freeze on further ParaBoss funding until budgets are re-assessed later this year. That has placed a hold on further development of the ParaBoss website, but at least the monthly reports continue to get published.

Perhaps one of the few benefits of COVID-19 has been the unprecedented local demand on butchers to supply red meat given the restraints on travel and shopping. This, on top of sustained good red meat and fluctuating wool prices, has honed the awareness of the need for optimal health and reproductive management in livestock. More producers appear to be scanning for twins each year, presumably in response to the record lamb prices, and so it is hoped these become sustained developments, in conjunction with ongoing research and interest in improving lamb survival as well as better fly control.

As for the next month, all eyes will be on the sky for opening rains, and so it is important to ensure worms and flies are not about to cause concerns—especially in April/May lambing flocks. This is even more critical if ewes are down in condition with the added risk of pregnancy toxaemia. Judicious worm monitoring and/or strategic drenching, as well as vaccination is recommended at least 4 weeks before lambing so that stress is minimised in the lead up to lambing. Here’s hoping for an upturn in everyone’s spirits as we enter May, but that parasites continue to be kept at bay.