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Victoria worm update - July 2013

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

Time is flying in the Western districts as we are now only a month from spring. Worm egg counts have been rising steadily over the last 6-8 weeks. Nutrition and age are always major factors in WEC levels, at this time of year we typically see highest counts in weaners and wethers. Weaner’s counts are elevated as they have not yet seen a second spring to develop good immunity to worms. Wether counts rise due to being locked up on the shortest and worst pastures to allow adequate nutrition for late gestation and lactating ewes. It is important for these two classes of livestock to be monitored every 2-3 weeks until pasture levels improve in the spring.  High counts are almost always indicated by mortality due to intestinal parasites, which I suspect we will start to see cases of come “sheepvention” time (August onwards).

The results from weaners and wethers can be used as a guide to the frequency of monitoring mature animals receiving adequate nutrition levels. If weaner counts remain low then it is likely that other mobs egg counts will also be low.

July Livestock Logic WEC lab stats

  • Mobs with drench recommendation after WEC
    • 30% weaners
    • 15% maidens
    • 10% mature animals

Cattle egg counts have also increased in the last few weeks. We are now doing our first cattle drench resistance tests for the year, as counts are now only just high enough. Prior to July there were very few weaners that required a drench in 2013 in the south west.

I spoke with a client recently who runs 10,000 crossbred ewes. Egg counts of his ewes were all below 200epg pre lamb marking and drenching was not required. He commented that all ewes have not been drenched since weaning time last year (Oct 2012). He had people questioning why he didn’t use a pre-lambing drench even though egg counts were low (concerned that they would escalate during lambing), it was clearly not required and he has saved big dollars. He estimated a saving of around $10,000 was made in drench due to monitoring and following best practice guidelines based on Livestock Logic recommendations in the last 12 months alone. This represents a significant saving in a 12 month period when the livestock sector has been pretty tight for most producers.

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

Most areas of North Eastern Victoria and southern NSW have now received decent rains. So sorry to hear that it is still terribly dry in south-western Victoria with farmers unable to find or buy feed for their animals. 

In this area of North Eastern Vic we have had 76 mm so far this month. The total for June was 67mm. Local farmers are happy as this is filling the dams and helping crops to grow!

Liver Fluke, Fasciola hepatica, have been cycling on those properties where they are present. Recently quite a few "flukey" properties have had positive test results but some places that experienced very dry summer conditions have found that Fluke are not active.

Increasing numbers of farmers are now testing first to see if drenching is really needed. With ongoing difficult conditions this saves the expense of drenching unnecessarily and animals being exposed to chemicals that they don’t need, which also increases the likelihood of the development of drench resistance

There are still, however, many of farmers that don’t test first!! They often say that they know whether animals need drenching by looking at them.

Now that it has rained, its important to be aware that worm egg counts in sheep, goats and young cattle will likely be steadily increasing, especially the Brown Stomach worm, Ostertagia spp. Suggest that you test your animals to see what the situation is..

To be sure which species of worms are active on your property when you get a worm egg done; ask for the eggs to be hatched out to determine their type… a Larval Culture.

It's also a good idea to test lambs at marking time.