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Beyond the Bale : September November 2009
September -- November 2009 BEYOND THE BALE 22 ANIMAL HEALTH New test for lice control An accurate new test that can diagnose lice infestations at shearing is now available. NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) researchers who developed the laboratory test believe it will be economical and give woolgrowers confidence not to dip or backline as a precaution. "The test could be used as part of a management strategy to eradicate lice from properties and/or reduce chemical usage and hence residues in wool," NSW DPI technical officer Paul Young says. "The test uses washings from the cleaning of shearers' combs and cutters. The washings detect protein from chopped-up lice, trapped in grease accumulated on the combs and cutters as lousy sheep are shorn." The laboratory test is the culmination of many years' financial investment and cooperative research between AWI, the NSW DPI and CSIRO Livestock Industries. The test uses samples, collected by, or on behalf of, woolgrowers, that must be sent to the NSW DPI's Elizabeth Macarthur Agricultural Institute (EMAI) at Camden to be analysed. At just $130.15 (including GST) per kit, the test can pay for itself many times over if woolgrowers choose not to dip, or backline sheep that previously would have been treated 'just in case' they had lice. The price includes the cost of the sample collection kit and freight to the laboratory. Woolgrowers will soon have a quick and highly effective tool to detect when sheep should be treated to prevent barber's pole worm disease (Haemonchosis) outbreaks. The Haemonchus Dipstick Test kit will be commercially available this spring, when Haemonchus contortus can appear in the higher-risk areas of northern NSW and Queensland, and at times in southern higher-rainfall zones including Victoria and south-west Western Australia. Producers and their advisers can now use the tool to quickly determine which mobs Revolution in worm prediction are at risk of, or are affected by, barber's pole worm, in conjunction with the reliable yet time-consuming faecal egg count. The test also gives results before worm egg counts rise. Immature worms are detected by the test about a week before they produce eggs, which is when they are already causing serious disease in sheep. The kit has been developed by the Sheep Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) and will be available to industry through distributors of the range of Merial and Ancare products. Dr Brown Besier, Sheep CRC project manager and principal veterinary parasitologist with the Department of Agriculture and Food, WA, found this worm species can be quickly and easily tested for on-farm. "The basis for the test is that barber's pole worms are blood-sucking internal parasites and as they feed in the abomasum some blood passes through the digestive tract," Dr Besier says. "The testing tool is chemically sensitive to haemoglobin (a product of blood breakdown) and changes colour according to the amount of blood in the sample. KEY POINTS l Woolgrowers will soon have a quick and highly effective tool to detect when sheep should be treated to prevent barber's pole worm disease outbreaks. l The Haemonchus Dipstick Test kit will be commercially available this spring. l Results are available on-farm within 30 minutes. Paul Young and Narelle Sales of NSW DPI conduct a test. "If there is a significant barber's pole worm burden present, there is more blood in the faeces -- seen as a colour change on the dipstick. Assessed in relation to weather conditions and sheep factors, this will indicate to farmers and advisers if, or when, drenching is required." The major benefits of the Haemonchus Dipstick Test kit include: l results available within 30 minutes on-farm l worm burdens are detected before egg production begins (before worm egg counts are of any value in diagnosis) l the test is easily accessible and able to be kept on-hand on-farm l the test is reliable, accurate and inexpensive. Director of large animal business with Merial and Ancare Jack Bree explains that the kit is available as an off-the-shelf package, with all components and instructions included, and enough materials for 50 tests in each kit. "Farmers will still need to collect dung samples from the paddock, but from there it's a much easier, quicker and cost-effective process. We find it takes about 30 minutes from sample collection to test result. The speed and cost of the Mr Young says that proper sample collection is absolutely essential and unless done correctly will invalidate the test results. "The kit's information sheet provides detailed instructions for correct sample collection. Because of the
June August 2009