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Beyond the Bale : September 2017
PRE-LAMBING PREPARATION AND EWE DRENCHES SET THE SCENE Worm control in summer rainfall areas is greatly improved by preparing low worm- risk spring lambing paddocks – a topic that was discussed in the March 2017 edition of Beyond The Bale – and drenching the ewes with an effective short-acting pre-lambing drench. Together, these prevent the typical spring build up of worms in lambing ewes whose immunity is naturally suppressed. In winter rainfall areas, worm-risk is declining in spring, but using the least contaminated paddocks for the most susceptible groups of ewes and lambs (for instance, twin-bearing or maiden ewes) is good practice. Gauge the contamination level by monitoring worm egg counts of the sheep using the lambing paddocks during the months prior to lambing. In these areas, ewes may not need a pre- lambing drench, but use a WormTest to decide this (details are in the WormBoss regional worm control programs at www.wormboss.com.au). LAMB MARKING WORMTESTS INDICATE WHETHER PREPARATION WAS A SUCCESS With effective pre-lambing worm control and lamb marking timed to occur when the oldest lambs are 6–7 weeks old, the drenching of lambs at lamb marking is rarely warranted. The lamb’s primary diet has been milk, so they have eaten relatively little pasture to acquire a significant worm burden. However, a pre-lamb marking WormTest is recommended for ewes, regardless of breed, particularly if the lambing paddock is likely to be heavily contaminated with worm larvae or the lambs appear not to be growing as well as expected. Collect faecal samples in the paddock, as for a normal WormTest, but only sample from the larger ewe dung piles – not the lambs. If the test indicates the ewes need drenching, then also drench the lambs at marking, and where possible, if drenching is required, provide a fresh paddock. At this time, the worm burden of lambs is still maturing and those larvae consumed in the last 2–3 weeks will not yet be laying eggs. BETWEEN MARKING AND WEANING CHECK FOR DEVELOPING WORM BURDENS Provided lambs are growing well (at least 200g/day) there should be no need to drench lambs before weaning. If you are concerned that they are not growing well, WormTest the ewes and drench both ewes and lambs, if indicated by your WormBoss regional Drench Decision Guide. AT WEANING (OR 14 WEEKS FROM THE START OF LAMBING) GIVE A DRENCH If there is only one drench to be given to young sheep, it should be the weaning drench. Only the very dry sheep-rearing districts of Australia regularly get away without a weaning drench, and in areas where drenching is only required in some years, a WormTest is recommended before weaning. It is industry practice that weaning should occur about 14 weeks after the start of lambing, especially for Merino ewes. This gives the ewes a suitable length of time to recover weight and condition before the next joining, and it allows lambs to be moved onto better quality pastures, crop or low worm-risk paddocks, with no competition from their mothers. The weaning drench for lambs is generally considered a strategic treatment: it has Should lambs be drenched at marking and weaning? Are there differences between Merino and meat breeds of sheep? And what if weaning is delayed past the standard 14 weeks of age? DRENCHES FOR SPRING LAMBS Ewes and lambs in a prepared sheltered low worm-risk paddock. PHOTO: Deb Maxwell 52 ON FARM
In the Shops - September 2017