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Beyond the Bale : Feb - Mar 08 Supplement
Acritical challenge for woolgrowers is to reduce the cost per kilogram of wool produced. Protecting and enhancing Australian wool's reputation as a clean, natural fibre -- free from synthetic chemicals -- is also critical. Flies, lice and worms cost the industry $700 million a year in control costs and lost production. This is equivalent to 20 to 25 per cent of the total sale value of the Australian Merino wool clip. Forecasts suggest that in 10 years these costs could increase substantially, due to increased parasite resistance to chemical control, reduced market access from pesticide residues, and growing occupational health and safety concerns. AWI (and others) are developing a set of practical management tools, based around the concept of integrated parasite management (IPM). IPM is about identifying and implementing strategies that use available tools in a coordinated manner, minimising parasite control costs and losses, minimising the need to apply synthetic chemicals and reducing wool residue levels from ecto-parasite control programs. To make IPM work, growers need to manage the core components of the system for their particular environment: ú parasite reser voir in the environment (worm lar vae, flies and lice); ú chemicals used to control internal parasites; ú chemicals used to control external parasites; and ú genes naturally occurring in sheep that confer resistance to parasites. Using funding support from AWI, researchers from universities and government departments, together with sheep producers in ueensland, New South Wales, Western Australia and Victoria, and on Kangaroo Island, have been collaborating to develop a best-practice management approach to minimise the effects of sheep worms, blowflies and lice. A set of tools and resources has been developed for growers to use, and more are in the pipeline. Resistance to internal and external parasites is partly genetic -- and this is a major long-term weapon in the war against parasites. Sheep that are resistant to internal parasites have fewer worm eggs in their faeces, directly affecting the size of the larval pool in pasture for re-infection. University of New England scientist and integrated parasite management -- sheep (IPM-s) project leader Lewis Kahn describes the program as an approach that involves regular monitoring, forward planning and the use of chemical and non-chemical control options. "IPM-s is not a complex message," Dr Kahn says. "It contains four basic steps: know which chemicals are effective and use an effective product; monitor parasite populations and only treat when you reach a threshold point; minimise the risk of reinfection and reinfestation; and use biosecurity on introduced stock. "These general guidelines have been customised to suit the parasite, the district and the management on individual farms," he says. A series of 23 national demonstration farms were set up across Australia to provide an insight into the practicalities of adopting IPM-s management on-farm and its impact on parasite populations and farm productivity. "The clear message from the survey and the results from the demonstration farms after three years is that IPM-s has the flexibility to work in with the management of an individual farm," Dr Kahn says. For woolgrowers in the high summer-rainfall areas, the cost of worms on most farms was estimated at about $6 a head per year. After two years of IPM-s, the cost of worms was more than halved, to $2.50/head/year." A strong message coming from the project in terms of worm control is that every farm is different, but IPM-s programs will provide the flexibility to deal with this variability. Sheep producers need to develop and monitor their IPM-s programs in consultation with a veterinarian or animal health expert who is familiar with both the research and the subtleties of their local environment. The major components of a farm's IPM-s program will vary between regions and could include: Worms: ú testing for drench resistance to know which drenches are effective against which parasites on your property; ú monitoring worm egg counts at critical times of the year in different mobs; ú drenching only after monitoring of worm egg counts indicates the need; ú quarantine drenching and management to prevent the introduction of resistant worms; ú timing drenches to reduce worm burdens or slow the development of drench resistance; ú using grazing management strategies to reduce exposure of sheep to worms on pasture -- for example, the 'Smart Grazing' approach developed by the Mackinnon Project for winter rainfall regions, intensive rotational grazing, or sheep/cattle interchange in summer-rainfall regions; ú selecting sheep for both increased resistance to 6 BEYOND THE BALE ECO-TRENDS SUPPLEMENT INTEGRATED PARASITE MANAGEMENT IPM is about coordinating parasite management strategies to minimise costs and losses. It is also an effective way of minimising wool residue levels and slowing down selection for resistance ON-FARM COSTS AND STAKES ARE HIGH Sheep that are resistant to internal parasites have fewer worm eggs in their faeces, directly affecting the size of the larval pool in pasture for re-infection.
Dec - Jan 08
Feb - Mar 08