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Beyond the Bale : June 2011
21 June 2011 BEYOND THE BALE ON-FARM FAST FACTS lIn response to spreading lice infestations in all states, local flock protection plans can help prevent lice being introduced into a lice-free flock. l It's important to work with your neighbours to ensure that lice-free flocks stay protected from lice. l Nearly all new infestations begin from contact with another infested sheep. " ollaboration with neighbouring and local farmers can greatly reduce the risk of lice being introduced onto a property," advises woolgrower Tony Brooks of 'East Bungaree', Hallett in South Australia. Tony, who runs 3200 Merinos on the hilly 2000ha property with his brother Mark, has got together with a group of producers from his local area to help ensure that lice are not introduced onto their properties. "You need to get your neighbours involved, you can't do it individually," Tony says. "Nobody wants lice brought onto their property -- we're all in the same boat. So we work together keeping each other informed about each of our management practices and we've come to an agreement on how best to collectively ensure that lice are not introduced. "We all shear at about the same time -- all within two months of each other. In fact, I have had to change the timing of my shearing to fit in with my neighbours, so there are sacrifices -- but it is definitely worthwhile. "We all get to know what chemicals our neighbours are using, we all ensure that our fences are well maintained, and we all ensure that there are no woolly lambs running with ewes. "Our objective here at East Bungaree is to retain the valuable attributes of our Merinos -- size, fertility and the ability to thrive in pastoral country -- but at the same time improve the quality of wool they grow, and we wouldn't be able to do that if lice were a problem here." Lice cost Australian woolgrowers more than $120 million annually. They reduce fleece weight and downgrade wool quality. In addition, there are increasing market requirements to minimise chemical residues resulting from lice and flystrike treatments, fewer control options with the limiting use of diazinon for lice control to one permit holder, and continuing challenges due to the development of resistance to some backliners. If a producer has a problem with lice on their property, they should they should first implement effective eradication on their own farm. It is best to be part of a group of local producers who share this aim -- it's even better and faster if they all do it simultaneously. Once a property has been established as lice-free, a well-designed lice biosecurity plan to avoid contact with infested sheep is critical to keeping the property lice-free. Nearly all new infestations begin from contact with another infested sheep. Sheep lice do not breed on animals other than sheep, however goats may carry and spread lice to and from sheep if there is close contact. Major sources of lice are: l Failure to kill all lice at the previous treatment l Failure to treat all sheep on the property l Infested sheep that stray onto a property l Sheep which stray from the property, come into contact with a lousy sheep, and later return to the mob l Purchased or agisted sheep and sheep brought in from other properties l However, infestations also result from sheep missed at muster and therefore left untreated in the previous year or sheep not effectively treated at their previous shearing. "Prevention is better than cure," says Tony. "Getting all your neighbours on the same wavelength is paramount. Once you're all working together, you'll get on top of the problem." More information: www.wool.com/liceboss Stopping the introduction of lice Developing a biosecurity plan in collaboration with neighbouring farmers can help keep new lice infestations out of lice-free flocks.