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Tasmania worms, flies and lice update - February 2015

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

The summer has been a topsy-turvy affair with little rain and incessant wind: a cold bastard from the south-east, which would normally produce a bucket load of rain on the east coast resulted in SFA. This last week there has been substantial rain on the east coast and parts of the midlands. Apart from triggering monumental ryegrass staggers, we can expect increased fly and worm activity.

Flies first: the dry, cool and windy weather has meant little fly activity. However, since the weekend, the twin evils of low winds and high humidity have made fly heaven. It does not help that many of the merino weaners are struggling: low body weight from inadequate, dry tucker and high worm burdens, plus or minus bacterial infections (usually Yersinia) result in many daggy young sheep. It’s rumoured that mainland and NZ flies are migrating to be part of the action.

So, control the dags, crutch or polish them off and think about some protection. The choices have been outlined in missives late last year. Just keep ESIs and wool harvesting intervals in mind when making your choice. Alternatively, you may shear to solve the problem.

Dry, bare paddocks will help environmental decontamination. For once, our strategic drenches may work adequately. In the last month, WECs have featured more and more Nematodirus, often as the sole species. This is not unexpected, as this nasty bugger is as durable as prophylactics made from galvanised pipe. Importantly, its egg output is sporadic, so if the count is modest (say, 150 epg), but you have signs of parasitism, probably best to drench.

After the widespread rain, watch WECs closely for a trigger for the second summer drench (see the Tasmanian WormBoss Worm Control Program for situations where a second summer drench should be given).