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Victoria worms, flies and lice update - May 2017

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

Livestock Logic Recommendations

  • Egg counts have, to date, not risen as much as we would have expected since the autumn break
  • But egg counts are still tracking well above those this time last year  
  • Nutrition is buffering worm challenge, colder winter conditions will put pressure on sheep in June
  • Monitor young and high risk stock (lambing ewes) regularly through winter

Conditions in the south west and, in fact, most of the State are looking great. Most producers are commenting they cannot remember it being this good this early with spring-like conditions in some paddocks. I was on a farm last week with pasture that was well over a foot high (about 30 cm) with an estimated >4000kg of high quality Dry Matter per Hectare. For most producers it is difficult to find ways to deal with the excessive feed that is available without causing ewes to get overfat prior to lambing.

Worms to date have not been as big an issue as I thought we would have seen by now. I think the early break, which typically increases worm counts, has been somewhat offset by such a good break leading to high levels of feed, rather than often typical autumns where we have a short green mat of pasture and high larval intake without high energy intake. All weaners look in great condition and as a result, are handling worm burdens reasonably well. But as you can see from the graph below, egg counts are still well above where they were at the same time last year.

We are still finding the odd scenario where a lack of summer monitoring has led to massive worm burdens in sheep, but for the most part, those farmers that have put together a good summer drench program are now seeing relatively low worm burdens in stock. It is important not to become complacent as we would expect with cooler conditions and reduced pasture growth, the levels of larval intake will increase and worm burdens will start to put pressure on young stock.