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Victoria worms, flies and lice update - May 2018

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

Livestock Logic Recommendations

  • We are now 6-7 weeks after the autumn break rains for most of south west Victoria, and all sheep, in particular the light weight weaners need a worm egg count promptly
  • Producers who failed to monitor for worms over the summer should expect 2018 to be a nasty year for internal parasites
  • Egg counts from mid-June onwards will give a good indication of the quality of the drench program you implemented last summer: if egg counts are high by mid-June then you will need to re-examine your worm control program for the coming summer

I feel somewhat guilty writing this update for south west Victoria as we have had a pretty good start to autumn with initial rains in April germinating pastures, and fantastic continued rain in May to ensure good pasture growth and reasonable feed availability for stock before the slowed pasture growth over winter. It sounds tough in many other parts of Australia in terms of rainfall currently. There are some light conditioned animals locally where summer and early autumn supplementary feeding programs have not managed to fill the void left by very poor quality pastures, the result of a long spring. 

Worm conditions for the year ahead are still somewhat hard to predict, but there will be a big difference on properties where the summer worm control was targeted and precise as these producers would have been able to take advantage of the four months of dry conditions to reduce pasture contamination levels. Those that presumed egg counts in stock were low and failed to egg count will likely get some high egg counts which will make management hard over the coming winter period. By mid-June worm levels will be far more predictable as we will be able to see the level of larvae pickup that has occurred in sheep post the autumn break.

The chart below shows that we are starting to see a rise in egg counts post the autumn break in April. I expect this to rise sharply in June, and monitoring of all stock especially young animals will need to be regular throughout June.

There is minimal fly activity as we would expect from now on in. Lice is continuing to be reported on many farms, and an assessment of biosecurity for most producers is warranted if they aim to keep these parasites out.