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Victoria worms, flies and lice update - February 2017

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

Livestock Logic Recommendations

  • Seasonal conditions are allowing the worm lifecycle to complete.
  • This is causing increased egg counts in all age groups, particularly young stock.
  • Conditions look ripe for nasty worm burdens in mid-autumn with high levels of ground cover and damp conditions allowing contamination levels to build.

Unseasonal conditions in the south-west are causing a number of issues for stock at the moment. We are seeing plenty of ryegrass staggers and also the odd case of pneumonia in lambs. Conditions in late February saw me light the fire at home with nights down to 6 and 7 degrees C. These unusual summer conditions are setting us up for some potential worm issues later in the autumn. There are record levels of dry feed in most paddocks and rain events in the first 2 months of the year have allowed good pasture growth with many properties having between 200–800 kg of green Food On Offer within >2,500 kg of dead Dry Matter (DM). This is providing wonderful protection for worm larvae as they hatch and causing increased infection rates of lambs and adult ewes.

Over the past 6 weeks, we have seen much higher worm levels than in the previous 2 dry springs. For this reason producers must sharpen up on their worm management as the potential is set for a more typical worm year for the south west. The last 2 years have been somewhat unseasonal for worms and more typical of 500 mm rainfall areas due to extended hot and dry periods over summer.

If you haven’t tested young animals since late January, and mature animals since mid-January then you are due for egg counts. Leaving these animals untested is a major risk, as without monitoring it is likely that you may be over drenching, or not drenching animals with significant worm burdens leading to potentially massive consequences this winter if conditions stay the same for March and April.