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Beyond the Bale : March 2019
38 ON FARM Experienced producers know that flystrike doesn’t go away in a drought; isolated rainfall events can still provide the conditions that suit body strike and breech strike particularly when breech wrinkle combines with urine stain and/or dags. Fewer rainfall events, shorter drier grass and lower humidity do decrease the incidence of body strike, and breech strike, prompting the question: “Should I apply a preventative treatment?” Such treatments are rarely needed if: • the sheep have a low susceptibility to strike during periods of high fly activity • there are few periods of high fly activity and they are generally very short • the mob number is small enough for strikes to be identified early and treated individually. However, as droughts invariably break, sometimes with flooding rains that can quickly isolate mobs of sheep or make access difficult, be prepared to check and treat ahead of a likely high risk weather event. BODY STRIKE Jetting or spray-on body strike preventative treatments involve chemical and labour costs that may be better diverted to supplementary feed during a drought. But before foregoing such a treatment consider the susceptibility of the sheep and the later labour requirements. Will labour resources be available to: a) monitor sheep more frequently, particularly after each decent rainfall event, and b) treat individual struck sheep? Will few or many of your sheep be affected with fleece rot or dermo (dermatophilus or lumpy wool) from the following causes, after sporadic rain? • Creamier/yellower wool contains a higher proportion of suint (sweat) that holds moisture. • Poor back and shoulder conformation that allows water to stay on the skin longer. • A closed fleece structure that traps moisture, preventing the fleece from drying rapidly. • Handling wet sheep. Shearing time should also be considered, as longer wool during fly periods increases susceptibility to body strike. BREECH STRIKE Drought has a lesser effect on the incidence of breech strike, therefore, if a routine treatment is normally necessary, it will likely be needed during drought. If your sheep have wrinkly breeches – an average Breech Wrinkle Score of 2 or above – strongly consider choosing future sheep or sires with much plainer breeches. Dag is the other main offender causing breech strike. Potentially, dag may be reduced in a drought, however when green Monitoring for flystrike should identify strikes before sheep suffer. This relies on both thoroughness and frequency of inspection. feed/weeds grow (there can be several false breaks before the drought truly breaks) it can cause digestive upsets leading to dags. Less wool on the breech (breech cover) also reduces susceptibility to strike. Breech wrinkle, dag and breech cover are all heritable and can be included in a breeding program to reduce susceptibility to breech strike. Aside from a preventative chemical treatment, consider crutching as an alternative to decrease susceptibility to breech strike when there is higher fly activity. MONITORING Monitoring should identify strikes before systemic signs appear. This relies on both closeness and frequency of inspection. A paddock drive-through rarely identifies early strikes. Monitor the amount of stain or dag on breeches and crutch and/or treat before strike becomes a problem. During high flystrike risk periods, check sheep closely every two to three days. Close inspection in the paddock can be done in a number of ways: • Hold the mob along a fence line and walk DURING DROUGHT
In the Shops - March 2019