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Tasmania worms, flies and lice update - June 2016

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

The happy news last month about good general rain started a trend. The deluge Tasmania received from the 4th to 7th of June made worldwide headlines with huge floods in the South Esk, Meander and Mersey river basins. At one stage, it looked possible that Fortress Nilon may have to be evacuated, and we did have to cancel a day’s ParaBoss workshop to cover the contingency.


Surprisingly, many sheep producing areas, notably the midlands and Derwent Valley, received relatively modest totals (40–80mm) that added ever so nicely to May’s totals. With the exception of a series of 6 or 7 frosts in late May it has been an incredibly mild autumn/winter so far. Soil temperatures are still well above 10°C (except at Liawinee, which only has rocks and no soil) and grass is growing apace.

There is some action to report: unlike interest rates, WECs have started to move. First cab off the rank has been the ever-resilient nematodirus with just a few strongyle eggs showing up. Only a few eggs counts have necessitated action. Adult dry sheep in good condition have remained worm free.

It’s time for 2 perennial reminders.

Firstly, don’t assume the need for a long acting drench pre-lambing. If ever it was looking good for a worm-free winter, this is it. Monitor mobs diligently and record the counts against the paddocks. This should give you a good idea of a paddock’s contamination. Any eggs deposited now will survive for the Christmas party, but if there are few eggs being laid down, the paddock will be lowly contaminated. Contact me to discuss this if you wish.

Secondly, winter shearing is well underway so give consideration to lice treatments. The old adage was “no point setting rabbit traps unless you have rabbits.” The alternative was to treat presumptively. Annual treatment became hugely popular when the first of the SP (synthetic pyrethroids) back-liners were released in the early 1980s. Unfortunately, we still have no reliable lice test (no, shearers’ noses are not reliable). I suggest that the correct road is the risk management approach. Take into account your biosecurity, the status and enterprise of your neighbours and other risks you can identify (particularly purchased sheep). You can do this intuitively and qualitatively. Alternatively, have a look at the LiceBoss Treatment Guide. It does the assessment for you.