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Victoria worm update - January 2014

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

Cases of high mortalities in weaners due to worm crashes continued in January. This highlights the need to monitor sheep under to 2-Y0 more frequently this summer due to a bumper spring increasing worm risk. Last month we conducted over 20 drench resistance tests on client’s properties which continue to show a huge variation with the odd client having all drenches working effectively, and some having very limited alternatives to  monepantel for effective treatments. The variation shows the need for regular property testing lambs without access to green pasture should be receiving adequate supplementation to ensure 30 grams per day weight gain to reduce lamb mortality rates.

The next few months are critical in determining the level of worm risk for your property throughout the winter. As the peak of summer heat recedes worm eggs passed in the faeces are no longer fried before they can develop into worm larvae that are dangerous to sheep.  Normally this is not a risk till mid March, but very high levels of carry over pasture in the South West means this risk  will start up to a month earlier this year.  It is important to ensure that stock with even moderate worm burdens that may not be effecting production levels are drenched prior to 3rd week of Feb to reduce the level of drenching required throughout the winter. This is particularly important for stock grazing pastures, those on stubbles that will not be grazed in winter can allow for much higher drench trigger levels as contamination on these paddocks is of no consequence.  WEC’s are required to determine if a drench is required, as a blanket treatment of sheep to reduce pasture contamination levels with low worm burdens is highly selective for worm resistance. Conversely not knowing that stock are causing high levels of contamination in late summer/early autumn creates a high worm risk environment in winter, requiring frequent drenching. It’s important to graze out heavily in February those paddocks with recent high WEC results to expose the worm larvae, and enhance the summer kill of worm larvae.  The next few months are critical in reducing worm levels throughout the growing season. At Livestock Logic we offer a free veterinary consultation to discuss drench requirements with all egg counts that are submitted to help guide you to make the right decisions. Contact us on 03 55 721 419 or on the email above to have some reply paid worm collection kits sent to you.

Tricia Veale, Benalla (triciav7@bigpond.com):

At the moment it is very dry here in North Eastern Victoria. 56 mm fell in December but only 5mm so far for January.

The very dry conditions have sparked fires in Victoria, but at this stage most have fortunately been extinguished or are under control. 

Our thoughts are with those affected by these dreadful situations!

Worm egg counts are generally low here, but farmers are still thoughtfully sending in tests to check out the situation, so that they don’t drench unless it is necessary.

Water in the dams is presently lowering rapidly due to the very hot conditions. If you see a green scum on any of your dams it is a good idea to get a water sample examined. Most of the algae are generally found to be harmless but in some cases a bloom of toxic Blue-Green algae (BGA) may be present.  Toxic blooms have already been reported this year on some dams in this area. Then arises the awful situation of telling the owner that the dam water is not suitable for stock use.

There are many types of algae that bloom. Most of them are harmless to stock, however there are 5 types of toxic BGA’s.

The major pollutants which stimulate excessive algal growth are plant nutrients, nitrogen and phosphorus which are contained in human sewerage, animal manures, fertilizers, detergents and also result from soil erosion.

If you are confronted with an algal bloom in your dam the first thing to do is stay out of the water and do not drink it (even if filtered and boiled). Then, keep stock away and provide an alternative water supply. Don’t spray water containing algal blooms on to pastures, crops, grapes, vegetables or fruit. Then get the algae causing the problem identified. Only a microscopic examination in a laboratory will confirm the types of algae present.

It is important to support the people who have lost homes and stock in the terrible bushfires. Send donations to organisations that are helping the victims or give practical help wherever possible. Fodder is needed for those who have lost pastures and fencing is required in burnt areas.

The hard work and dedication of the Fire Services to our communities is truly wonderful!

Good wishes to all for and a happy, safe and fruitful 2014!