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Beyond the Bale : Feb 07 - Mar 07
By Kellie Penfold Woolgrowers are reminded by the WormBoss program not to become complacent about internal parasite management just because of dry conditions. Stephen Love, state coordinator for internal parasites at the NSW Department of Primary Industries and NSW representative for the AWI and Sheep CRC-funded WormBoss program, says that generally worm egg counts will be lower in a drought, but occasionally sheep become "very wormy, very quickly". "This can be due to management changes, declining immunity and localised weather events, such as short sharp showers, which can produce localised run-off and a fresh batch of infective lar vae -- and green pick -- over parts of a paddock," Dr Love says. "It's particularly the case for round worms. It is also well known that in dry times in liver fluke country, sheep will spend more time foraging in flukey parts of a farm where there is still some green feed." Some worms are better than others at handling dry conditions, for example small brown stomach worm (Ostertagia) and thin-necked intestinal worm (Nematodirus). Also, when conditions do turn good, some worms can quickly take advantage of this, for example, barber's pole worm (Haemonchus) because of its ability to rapidly multiply. "Sheep at this time can also be more susceptible to worms because of nutritional stress in dry conditions or physiological status, such as late pregnant or lactating ewes, or young lambs," Dr Love says. "One of WormBoss's main aims is to educate woolgrowers about how Dry offers no break from worms Although worm egg counts are often lower in a drought, sheep can become very wormy, very quickly for a number of reasons 15 ANIMAL HEALTH BEYOND THE BALE Worm counts add up to money saved Guyra woolgrower Cameron Peardon believes faecal worm egg counts are valuable in any season. "Worms are our number-one animal health issue," Mr Peardon says. "We previously ran sheep in southern Queensland, and due to the property and sheep history all drenches were 100 per cent effective. "After moving from Queensland to the New England region, we didn't get the response we expected from our drenches. I carried out a drench-resistance test and the results showed that neither the Closantel-based drenches or Cydecton gave the residual protection they should, but the combination white and clear drenches were still 100 per cent effective, which came as a real surprise to me. "We've already saved money by changing to cheaper drenches that actually work on our place. "Unfortunately, with residual drenches less effective for us, the period through January and February is particularly difficult. Under the ideal worm conditions that happen at that time, barber's pole worms have caused deaths at five weeks after drenching with a short-acting drench.We now do worm egg counts more frequently during peak worm times. Mr Peardon says worm egg counting is an essential part of "simply keeping sheep alive" and preventing any tenderness in the wool from high worm burdens. "We did try the method of looking for anaemia in the sheep's eyelids, and that was OK if the sheep were in the yards and the worms weren't really active, but it is too labour-intensive for a commercial operation.We can collect dung for egg counts out in the paddock and either do an egg count at home using our own microscope, or more frequently we just send it to a lab. "The labs are fast and accurate and, from first-hand experience, they are considerably cheaper than dead sheep and a break in the wool." Moving from the Queensland forage crop grazing system to a grass-grazing operation, Mr Peardon says tools such as the online resource WormBoss have been invaluable. "WormBoss is absolutely great. 'Ask the Boss' has really reinforced the need to do egg counts and check drench resistance. And I feel so much more comfortable about deciding when to drench. "There is a lot more for me to learn from WormBoss, particularly the non-chemical management options. I realise now that drenches alone won't keep our sheep alive and productive.We are placing a lot more emphasis on breeding for worm resistance.We also run steers and do slow grazing rotations, but without having really used them as a tool for worm management." Cameron Peardon with a faecal egg sample taken from Merino sheep on his Guyra property. financially detrimental worms can be in terms of livestock performance. "The health of the sheep is one of the easiest inputs into wool production to manage, but some growers still fail to give it the level of attention it deserves." In dry conditions,WormBoss recommends that wool producers: ú keep up regular worm egg-count monitoring; ú be guided by general worm control guidelines for their area and expert local knowledge; ú check on the effectiveness of drenches used -- if a full-blown drench-resistance test has not been done recently, at least do a DrenchCheck (a simple worm egg count 14 days after a routine drench). If long-acting drenches are used, a second worm egg count 28 days after treatment is also recommended; many farmers are unwittingly using drenches that have become ineffective due to worm resistance; and ú use grazing management -- for example, spelling or rotational grazing with cattle -- to avoid excessive worm challenges for susceptible classes of sheep. WormBoss recommends four general management practices: ú monitor worm populations using worm egg counts to detect infestations early; ú perform regular drench-resistance tests so you know which drenches are effective on your property; ú maximise the use of non-chemical management strategies; and ú seek professional local advice to fine-tune your worm control program. The WormBoss website offers livestock producers information on worm egg counts, pasture larvae surveys, drench resistance and good management practices. It also features 'Ask the Boss', which allows users to ask a question regarding internal parasites in sheep and obtain advice on which steps to take. Producers can also register to receive monthly Worm Updates via email newsletter, with up-to-the-minute recommendations and research results. ú More information: www.wormboss.com.au or www.wool.com.au/ipm Cameron Peardon takes a faecal sample. PHOTOS: SHEEP CRC
Feb 07 - Mar 07 Supplement
Dec 06 - Jan 07