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Tasmania worms, flies and lice update - April 2015

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

The big dry continues.  There has been little substantive rain at all in the last month.  Lots of promise, but so little delivery.  The dry conditions have allowed a handful of good frosts, which would have slowed pasture growth, except that there is little pasture left to slow.  On Monday this week we had the coldest April night for 37 years; minus 4 or below over much of the sheep country.

WECs have been delightfully low.  The exception has been lambs on irrigated pastures.  Nearly all sheep, even weaners, on dry pastures are virtually worm free.  For once the double summer drench program may have kicked a goal.

A few clients have reported liver condemnations in cattle, with no clinical signs in sheep grazing the same areas.  This is a bit puzzling, but it is possible that the cattle carried residual scaring from older infections.  Notwithstanding, beware that fluke habitat expands in some summers due to suitable habitat being created in irrigation supply and drainage areas. 

Finally, it’s never too late for fly strike.  Two clients reported strikes in the last week.  One was fat lambs under irrigation (literally).  The other involved two breech strikes in a mob of specialty sheep:  both sheep had early vulval cancers and both had tails as short as a list of Siberian surfing champs.  If you provide the right conditions the flies will come.