Egg count results have been fairly stable over the last 4 weeks, as shown by the graph below. WEC monitoring needs to be maintained frequently for another month until pasture levels increase with temperatures and more sunshine. Spring has arrived with some pleasant weather in the South West and paddocks are drying out, another rain would be welcomed shortly to maintain ground moisture levels.
Figure 1: % Egg Counts over 200 epg each month for 3 different sheep classes
We are still seeing some cases of mortality in sheep, particularly in the weaners, and we would encourage producers to continue to monitor lambs every 2–3 weeks until spring feed conditions arrive. Pre-lamb marking counts should also be carried out to ensure production losses in ewes are not occurring. As always, we are seeing a huge range in egg counts of ewes at lamb marking, which will depend on factors such as FOO (Feed On Offer) levels, ewe condition score and paddock contamination levels.
A reminder that lambs from 10 weeks of age can build up significant worm burdens and we need a plan to reduce the production effects for these lambs as they have no immunity to worms and frequent egg counting and or drenching is required for optimal growth.
In this area of North Eastern Victoria we have had some initial good rains, now it is drying up. There was 56 mm total in July and only 3 mm so far for August.
A large number of properties where Liver Fluke, Fasciola hepatica, have been cycling have had positive test results. Fluke now appear to be active in this area.
Worm egg counts are at quite moderate to high levels generally. We suggest that you get these tested regularly as it is now essential to keep up with what the worm levels in stock are doing, especially in paddocks where ewes have young lambs.
It's also important not to drench animals unless it is needed, to avoid the increasing of drench resistance. So do test first!
A local property owner has confirmed that he is now selling rams with negative worm egg counts, for those looking to breed worm-resistant sheep.
Coccidian oocysts of mixed Eimeria spp. are now very evident in young calves, cria, kids and lambs. If your young animals are scouring badly, suggest that you get some dung samples examined. You can then determine if large numbers of coccidia or worm eggs are present.