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Tasmania worm, flies and lice update - April 2014

Tasmania: Paul Nilon, Nilon Farm Health (pandonilon@bigpond.com)

Easter greetings from the south where Easter bunnies are yet to get frosty tails. After a protracted dry period, modest, widespread rain has resulted in a good start to autumn. Because it has been so warm, the pasture response to a few spits has been extraordinary. Most sheep producers have good green cover, and wilting rape and legume crops have been rejuvenated.

At this time, the WECs have remained low. Given the amount of contamination deposited in early summer, the milder conditions may well lead to a rapid increase in available burdens, but here’s hoping that the fierce, late summer and aggressive drenching has removed some of that potential. If you have not given a second summer drench consider the West Australian option of an autumn break drench. Protect pastures and crops sown into the cereal and poppy paddocks by drenching at the lowest of triggers. Finally, for the few enlightened souls using SmartGraze, the suggestion is to hold off for a few weeks to allow additional pasture growth.

April seems to be the month that people discover lice in their July/August shorn ewes. While fleece value in prime lamb dams may be inconsequential (not always) you cannot let the infection run on animal welfare grounds, not to mention the likelihood of the shearers walking out if they have to chip the cots from the ewes. Prem shearing is an option, but should only be undertaken if you have done a partial budget. Registered long-wool treatments include ivermectin, diflubenzuron, spinosad, and cypermethrin. Wool harvesting intervals may well reduce the usable list. The list is available at this Liceboss link (except for cypermethrin - Coopers Vanquish- which seems to have escaped notice), and while you are there have a look at their groovy lice management tools.