Back to State Outlooks

Tasmania worms, flies and lice update - October 2018

Tasmania WormBoss Worm Control Programs

Tasmania WormBoss Drench Decision Guides





Perth: Paul Nilon, Nilon Farm Health (

It’s surprising how much the countryside has dried out in the last month with warm temperatures, just a few frosts and plenty of wind. Notwithstanding, the spring is strong for most areas except the East Coast. Even the Fingal Valley has had a few showers and the countryside is starting to move. Widespread rain last weekend topped up the spring over most parts of the state.

We are in the worm doldrums: lamb marking is in full-swing and although some mobs of ewes and lambs are a bit daggy, overall they look good and there is sufficient tucker that neither ewes nor lambs should need a drench. You can firm–up the decision with a worm egg count (WEC).

Planning for weaning should have been done in autumn and winter, but just in case it slipped the committee’s mind herewith some thoughts:

  • Nutritional adequacy is number one: you should be weaning onto at least 1000kg Green Dry Matter (GDM). This impacts what paddocks you lock up, and (most importantly) when you wean. The mantra is no green, no grow, so wean early if the season is running out.
  • Some producers wean straight onto legume circles. While they are rocket fuel we have seen some problems with this. If possible, wean onto mixed perennial pasture for a few weeks before going to the ice cream parlour.
  • The weaning drench is the first summer drench for most. Make sure you use a working compound.
  • Drench ewes at weaning if they are light and daggy and if they are going back to permanent pasture.

Big Moves: While working on (arguably) Tasmania’s largest sheep property a few weeks ago I noticed that the marked lambs were unmulesed. This is a big step as the staff–sheep ratio is low and managing flies will present some challenges. However, if they can do it, so can all Tasmanian producers with a bit of planning. Remember that compared with many mainland areas the fly challenge is low, in spite of what many may think.

  • Long-term, breed plainer sheep. The link between productivity and skin is tenuous as best. Heavy skin is for shar–peis. There are now many productive studs with plain bodied sheep. Use ASBVs to identify individuals with low wrinkle.
  • Get your tail length right. Despite 60 years of research on this most tails are cut too short.
  • Treat lambs at weaning. There is a range of chemicals that provide from 6 weeks to 6 months protection.
  • Move your main shearing to spring or early summer. This is the biggie, not easily achieved but also the single most important move. The objection is that you cannot get shearers. Well given that spring shearing has died off in the last 25 years, try a bit harder. And despite what the native lore suggests, you can manage tensile strength with a spring shearing.

Animal welfare is the bottom line. No point in making the change if you cannot manage it. However, you would be living in cloud cuckoo land to think that mulesing will always be available. Nor can we reasonably expect a mulesing alternative to be available. Make your own alternative with plain-bodied sheep and some management changes.

This new FlyBoss page will set you on your way: Making the transition to a ceased-mulesing flock.

For October 2018 state outlooks, please follow the links below:
Back to State Outlooks