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Beyond the Bale : Apr - May 08
8 ANIMAL HEALTH BEYOND THE BALE Worm I<nowledge pooled for online guide Wool producers such as Queensland's Don Perkins are using Worm Boss to keep up-to-date with worms and worm drench resistance By Rebecca Thyer F or eensland wool producer Don Perkins, keeping worm drench resistance under control is an important management consideration, and one he is constantly learning about. Although Don farms at Dirranbandi, 500 kilometres west ofToowoomba - an area not noted for high levels of resistance - he wants to ensure the longevity of existing drenches. "Resistance is a worry and we want to be able to use available drenches for as long as possible;' Don says. "We are getting some resistance here, so it's important we only drench when absolutely necessary." With this goal in mind, Don started a new approach to worm management about five years ago when he undertook drench resistance testing and began checking dung from his sheep for worms, using fecal worm egg count kits. It has seen him better target the drenches used for his 5600 Merinos. Don says it is hard to estimate how much he has reduced drench use because of the varying seasons lately. "We've hardly drenched in the last few years because of the dry. But what I do now is, rather than drench when counts are 200 to 500 eggs per gram (which is recommended), I take other factors into account before deciding whether to drench or not. "There have been times when counts have been above these levels but we have not drenched because other factors have been in our favour." Other factors, including seasonal information (such as time of year), stocking rate, feed availability, and sheep type and condition, help him make a decision on drenching and drench type. Don has also found that sheep management can reduce worm counts. "We had a control group of sheep with a worm egg count of 1300 eggs/gram. By moving these sheep, which were good strong sheep, into a clean paddock we were able to reduce that count to about 650 eggs/gram without a drench. The numbers dropped to half in two weeks, although the season was hot and dry." Five years on, he relies on WormBoss (www.wormboss. com.au), a website developed by AWl and the Australian Sheep Industry Cooperative Research Centre (Sheep CRC) with support from Animal Health Alliance (Australia) Ltd, to get up-to-date information on worms and issues that could affect his area. Don also makes use of the free subscription service, available on the WormBoss home page, to receive a monthly 'sheep worm update' email from the WormBoss team. WormBoss national project leader Rob Woodgate, Queensland producer Don Perkins with his I.S-year old ewes PHOTO: BELINDA PERKINS a veterinary officer with the Department of Agriculture and Food, Western Australia, at Albany, says WormBoss can be an important management tool for sheep and wool producers. It helps control the costly problem of sheep worm-drench resistance by providing comprehensive information that can be tailored to particular districts. It aims to help prevent unnecessary drenching, thereby decreasing the risk of drench resistance on properties. Dr Woodgate says recent estimates put the cost of sheep worms to the Australian industry at up to about $370 million a year in terms of reduced income, and treatment and monitoring costs. As drench resistance gets worse this cost could increase further, making it important for producers to keep up-to-date with local advice on effective worm control. WormBoss was developed by Australian parasitologists, consultants, drench companies, drench resellers and department of agriculture staff in each state, and it is continually being updated. Users can also sign up for a free, monthly WormBoss email and receive seasonal, regional, sheep-worm news and highlights. WormBoss has two main sections - an 'Ask the Boss' section and a reference section, which comprises a comprehensive guide to Australian worms and worm-related issues. 'Ask the Boss' allows users to enter key information such as location, class of sheep, worm egg counts, drench resistance data, climatic issues, and availability oflow-worm paddocks, to generate a concise report that highlights key issues and options that woolgrowers can use to make decisions and take action against worms. A new feature is 'Know your advisor'. This section allows Australian users to search for local private veterinarians and consultants who can help with fecal worm egg counts and other sheep worm advice. 0 More information: www.wormboss.com.au; Don Perkins, firstname.lastname@example.org; Dr Rob Woodgate, DAFW A, email@example.com Free monthly email alerts about worms in your region One of the most useful features of Worm Boss is the free monthly Worm Boss email that provides sheep worm news and highlights.You can register your email details on the website to receive the latest sheep worm control information and news, as it happens and when it is important for you. This free monthly email newsletter includes a summary of regional sheep worm issues and news from around Australia. Content is coordinated by a technical committee of sheep parasitologists from WA, Queensland, NSVV, SA,Victoria and Tasmania, and features input from private veterinarians and consultants and government veterinarians from around Australia. Don Perkins, who subscribes to the free monthly newsletter email, says worm management is an issue that wool producers have to be on top of at all times, so getting the newsletter is helpful in keeping abreast of the latest advice. "It acts as a reminder and alerts us to any issues that might be a problem in our area." o To subscribe, fill in the form on the Worm Boss home page (www.wormboss.com.au).
Feb - Mar 08
Jun - Jul 08 Supplement