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Victoria worms, flies and lice update - December 2018

Hamilton: Andrew Whale, Livestock Logic (a.whale@livestocklogic.com.au)

Livestock Logic Key Recommendations

  • Remember to monitor weaners very closely 4–6 weeks after weaning
  • Generally, worm egg counts are very low in the south west region

Conditions in the south west of Victoria continue to be fantastic for livestock production, and well-managed pastures south of Hamilton still have reasonable quality feed. The good rainfall in December has meant that pastures are green (summer crop, hay and silage paddocks) and still providing excellent feed for young stock in need of protein for growth and immunity. However, this rain will have greatly reduced the quality of dry standing feed and animals grazing these pastures may need increased supplementary feeding sooner than expected. This season is closely tracking the 2017 season and most producers will remember the serious weight loss incurred by many sheep over last summer when quantity of pasture was great, but its quality was severely lacking.

Over the New Year period last year, a record number of sheep presented with severe worm burdens leading to significant mortality. In most situations, these were lambs that had been weaned in late November and early December and were dying from worm burdens 4–6 weeks after the weaning drench. With this season looking very similar to the previous one in terms of the extended green feed, it is important to remember that green feed can enable worm larvae to live longer and potentially cause significant production loss.

Monitor young stock closely, 4–6 weeks after drenching and then every 2–3 weeks for at least the next month, until you are confident that egg counts will not rise sharply.

With rain occurring and warmer temperatures, increased fly activity can be expected in susceptible livestock, but current levels of flystrike are not overly high.

There continue to be reports of lice infestations circulating amongst producers, indicating that property biosecurity management needs to be improved.