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Tasmania worms, flies and lice update - September 2019

Tasmania WormBoss Worm Control Programs

Tasmania WormBoss Drench Decision Guides





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

Didn't it rain, children: Check Rosetta Tharpe’s gospel classic as you consider the rain event of September 6 and 7! Most of the east coast and Fingal Valley received more than 50 mm, with Fingal and the St Paul’s Valley getting twice that. This should make for some sort of spring. Despite the deluge, the flood in the South Esk was underwhelming, suggesting lots of soaking in rather than runoff. The northern and central midlands received useful amounts (20 mm or so). Bothwell and the Derwent Valley are still deficient (in rain, that is).

Drought images from NSW and Queensland show denuded, blowing paddocks. Those from Tasmania usually show reasonable ground cover, albeit nutritionally useless. “So what?” you ask. Well, cool temperatures and some ground cover allow larvae to survive. Droughted sheep often put out a deal of contamination and are vulnerable to infection: both due to their nutritional stress and poor body condition. The rain may trigger a major worm event in the previously dry areas, so watch all mobs (but particularly lambing ewes) as the grass comes away.  Don’t assume the dry times have sterilised your paddocks.

The Tradesmen’s Entrance: Back when I first started vetting (an arcane term), some properties had signs directing visitors to the front door or the tradesmen’s entrance. Although Tom Hungerford (of “Diseases of Livestock” fame) said that as professionals we should always go to the front door, it was intimidating for a “wet behind the ears” newbie to do so.

Like neophyte vets, parasites sometimes come in the back door. Chapter and verse has been written about quarantine drenching, but it primarily concerns reducing the risk of importing resistant worms. What about importing a whole new species!

A client had lost a number of imported rams, although his older rams (running with the imports) were fine. After vetting (that term again) fluke was diagnosed and confirmed by a sedimentation test. “New” rams on the client’s second property had fluke. Old rams on the first place and mobs of ewes had none.

So the new rams had, in all likelihood, introduced fluke. As it happened, the rams were run on the only paddock likely to sustain fluke. An additional complication was that the rams had been staged at a distribution depot in Tasmania before distribution to clients. We do not know if fluke pickup occurred at the depot or the property of origin.

The moral of the story is to keep fluke in your quarantine thinking. They may sneak in through the tradesmen’s entrance.