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Beyond the Bale : Dec - Jan 08
Afast and effective way to test for barber's pole worm in sheep is being trialled in the paddock this spring. As a result, it is hoped the new dipstick barber's pole worm test will be widely available next year. Barber's pole worm (Haemonchus spp.) is a blood- sucking sheep worm that can cause substantial losses in the summer-rainfall region, from NSW's New England region to ueensland, from August through to April. In other parts of Australia, there are sporadic losses when conditions for the worm are favourable. Research by the Cooperative Research Centre for Sheep Industry Innovation (Sheep Industry CRC) has led to a fast, practical, on-farm test that will allow farmers to see the level of barber's pole worm infection in a particular flock. AWI, which contributes funding to the Sheep Industry CRC, has strongly aided the development of the test with specific project funding, as has Meat and Livestock Australia. The concept behind the new test arose after Dr Ian Colditz, a senior research scientist with CSIRO Livestock Industries in Armidale, NSW, asked the question, "Why don't we just test for blood in the sheep's faeces?" Consequently, a faecal sample is taken from the flock, and mixed and diluted with water. After boiling a small sub-sample, it is measured with a dipstick to test the level of blood, and therefore worm infection, which is indicated by a change in colour on the stick. Interference by some types of lush green pasture is eliminated by the boiling step. "The entire process is fast, easy, cheap and can be done on-farm with no special skills or expensive equipment," says Dr Brown Besier, principal veterinary parasitologist from the Department of Agriculture and Food, Western Australia, and parasite management sub-program leader for the Sheep Industry CRC. "In under an hour, producers can test at least five mobs and have an indicator of their infection, allowing them to follow recommendations on whether to drench or not." Worm egg counts are commonly used by sheep producers to estimate worm burdens based on eggs in the sheep's dung. But because adult female worms only lay eggs when they are at least three weeks old, by the time eggs are seen the infection is well established. Unfortunately, with barber's pole worm the worm burdens in sheep can skyrocket so quickly in warm and wet conditions that a traditional worm egg count may not be able to detect what is known as the "infection spike". Under the right conditions, sheep can ingest large amounts of worm larvae from contaminated pasture, and the resulting worms establish in the sheep's stomach. Infected animals quickly become anaemic and can die if producers are not aware of the danger. "Unlike other sheep gastrointestinal worms, infections with barber's pole worm can rise very rapidly, resulting in deaths only weeks after a drench due to massive blood loss from these blood-sucking worms," Dr Colditz says. While progress so far has been encouraging, using the dipstick concept to test for other worms may take some years as other significant parasite worm species are not blood-sucking and therefore the test would have to detect levels of other indicative chemicals in the faeces. ú More information: Deborah Maxwell, Sheep Industr y CRC, 02 6773 3597 Barber's pole worm gets the dipstick test Testing sheep faeces for blood proved the key to creating a quick, cost-effective test for barber's pole worms that can easily be done on-farm 6ANIMAL HEALTH BEYOND THE BALE A change in colour of the dipstick indicates the amount of blood -- and therefore worm infection -- in the faecal sample. 50 50 Yield & Micron Staple Length & Strength Colour Dark & Medullated Fibre Fleece Measurement WOOL TESTS AVAILABLE FOR: AUSTRALIAN WOOL TESTING AUTHORITY LTD ABN 43 006 014 106 PO Box 240, North Melbourne Vic 3051 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: www.awta.com.au 70 Robertson Street, Kensington Vic 3031 Tel: 03 9371 4100 Fax: 03 9371 4191
Oct 07 - Nov 07
Feb - Mar 08 Supplement