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Beyond the Bale : Feb - Mar 08 Supplement
By Fiona Conroy Photos by Matthew Cawood New England woolgrower Jim Swales has evidence that worms were a problem on his farm in the 1880s, thanks to the existence of a letter written by his great- grandmother. But the current generation of Swales -- Jim and his son Jamie -- at 'Woodlands', 50 kilometres south-west of Armidale, have turned the situation around by adopting an integrated parasite management (IPM) program, which has decreased chemical use and changed the focus to working with the animals and the environment. The result has been dramatic changes in the management of barber's pole worm (Haemonchus contortus). Drenching frequency has fallen, only effective products are used, faecal-worm-egg counts indicate the extent of worm burdens and grazing management helps keep paddocks clean. As a result, sheep are more productive and stock fatalities due to worms are virtually nil. "When I was growing up, we used to set stock and drench our sheep up to eight times a year with treatments such as copper sulfate and arsenic, and we drenched when we felt they needed it," Mr Swales says. "Now, we have a much better understanding of the parasite and use a package of tools that are helping to increase productivity and reduce the use of drenches." The fourth-generation specialist woolgrower is taking a back seat in the management of 'Woodlands' these days, but works closely with his son Jamie. The Swales run a self-replacing fine-wool Merino flock of 8000 sheep. Last year, they joined 3200 ewes and marked 2800 lambs, which were INTEGRATED APPROACH KEEPS PASTURES CLEAN born in September and weaned in mid-December. They also keep their Merino wethers for wool production until they are four or five years old and run a herd of 350 spring-calving Angus cows. The 'Woodlands' clip averages 18 to 18.5 microns. 'Woodlands' is one of the integrated parasite management -- sheep (IPM-s) demonstration farms in the New England area. The property covers 3000 hectares and receives 670 millimetres of annual rainfall -- mainly during summer. The integrated approach to worm control is relevant to all summer-rainfall areas. Haemonchus has effectively developed resistance to every new drench that has come on the market. "They love the wet, warm weather associated with summer rainfall and worm numbers build up quickly," Mr Swales says. "If you are not on top of the potential worm burdens, the result can 8 BEYOND THE BALE ECO-TRENDS SUPPLEMENT INTEGRATED PARASITE MANAGEMENT An integrated approach to worm control on this New England proper ty has reduced the need for chemicals, increased productivity and reduced stock losses New England woolgrowers, Jamie (left) and Jim Swales have reduced chemical use in their flock by using IPM principles.
Dec - Jan 08
Feb - Mar 08