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Victoria worm update - June 2013

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

June has been a busy month for our worm egg count laboratory as the rain and following green grass has provided an environment for intestinal parasites to rear their head. Increased frequency of monitoring is now occurring and will need to continue to occur throughout these next few months which are likely to be tight for most producers throughout Victoria.

We have performed around 500 bulk worm egg counts in June with a wide variety of results. Counts have ranged from 0 to as high as 2000, with an average of 100 eggs per gram. In reviewing our recommendations given to clients for the month of June we have advised drenching on 20% of weaner mobs and only 10% of hogget and mature age ewes.

Considering how dry our start to the year was and how low egg counts have been to date there is a large proportion of Victorian sheep that have had the potential to avoid any drench in the last 6 month period. This represents significant labour and cost savings to those following the principles of good worm management, let alone reducing the pressure on drench chemicals in a year that would have been highly selective for drench resistance.

Now that we are in the winter months the need for regular monitoring of all classes of stock is essential. Lambs will need to be checked at least every 3 weeks, monitoring of older animals can be gauged off weaner egg count results. While we have not carried out any mortality investigations that have shown worms to be the cause of death in 2013, I suspect that this will start to pop up in coming weeks and regular monitoring will enable treatment before deaths and production checks occur in most instances.

In recent weeks we have investigated a number of causes of scours in sheep after egg counts have been very low indicating minimal adult worms have been present. Post mortem exam has revealed an acute inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract with bacterial scours being the diagnosis. Without an egg count stimulating follow up diagnosis and instigation of treatment, losses could have been significant. Just a heads up that seeing scours may be unrelated to worms and the need to perform worm egg counts as initial workup is important.

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

In this area of North Eastern Victoria we have finally had some great rains. There was 40 mm in June and 54 mm so far for June. The grass is shooting well but most farmers are still feeding their stock.

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 many localities in this area.

Worm egg counts are now at quite moderate to high levels generally. We suggest that you get these tested regularly as it is now essential to keep up with the worm levels in animals, 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.

Coccidian oocysts of mixed Eimeria spp. are now very evident in young calves, cria, kids and lambs.  If your young animals are scouring badly we suggest that you send in some samples for examination. You can then determine if large numbers of Coccidia or worm eggs are present.

Also keep a check on young lambs to make sure they are not shedding Moniezia sp, tapeworms or eggs.

This way you can be sure of giving animals the correct treatment.