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Beyond the Bale : March 2013
Strategies combat worms 39 ON-FARM FAST FACTS l Livestock manager Shane Curtis uses a combination of strategies to control worms at 'Kurrajong Park', Coolah, NSW. l Grazing management keeps worms at lower levels to avoid worm outbreaks. l Strategic drenches at pre-lambing and weaning keep susceptible sheep from developing large worm burdens and reduce further pasture contamination with worms. Regular worm testing is the basis for extra drenches. With 20,000 head of sheep to manage, Shane Curtis's priority is keeping ahead of worms, but not by drenching unnecessarily. Shane uses the WormBoss principles of grazing management combined with regular monitoring and drench resistance testing to keep his flock healthy and profitable. 'Kurrajong Park', Coolah, is one of the Paspaley Rural properties and runs a mixed operation of Merinos, cattle and crops. Livestock manager, Shane Curtis, who looks after 8000 breeding ewes, 12,000 wethers, 1000 commercial cattle and 200 stud cows, says that in such a large operation, an outbreak of worms is a disaster, both in production loss and the logistics of treating such large numbers quickly. "I use a number of worm control strategies to get the best possible control at the least cost," Mr Curtis said. "Without regular worm egg counts I wouldn't know how things are going. I get a quick turnaround on samples plus recommendations and extra advice when needed from Rad Nielsen at VHR in Armidale." Three grazing strategies help keep the worm numbers down in the first place. Kurrajong Park has 13,000 acres of crop, and Mr Curtis said, "I try to run the sheep on stubble after harvest, especially if they get drenched, as this helps to control a lot of the worm burden in paddocks. "On the odd occasion where we've had a severe outbreak of worms we use cattle to clean up those paddocks. "Lambing ewes can really contaminate paddocks with worms so we rest our lambing paddocks from sheep from December through to July so they are pretty clean. We generally drench the ewes before they go in them to lamb and this keeps the worms in check and prevents big infections later. "Both the ewes and lambs are drenched at weaning in December and lambs tend to get drenched again in April. Aside from the pre-lambing and weaning drenches, most other drenching is done on the basis of a worm egg count." Mr Curtis tests for worms at regular intervals through the year and before major sheep activities such as shearing, crutching, lamb marking and weaning. Some wether mobs are only drenched once a year; very rarely more than twice. "I find worm egg counts an important part of the sheep program as it allows me to determine the types of worms my sheep are carrying, then select the appropriate drench. "I choose the drench based on worm burden, time of year and the season, what paddock the mob is going to and using results from our three-yearly drench resistance tests." Rad Nielsen, Production Animal Veterinarian at VHR, said that Shane's program is a good example of how an integrated program is highly effective. "Grazing management and strategic drenches keep worm numbers down and then regular testing shows when a drench is finally needed," Dr Nielsen said. "Shane has also taken care with his drench use, which was evident from the last drench resistance test. This showed Shane Curtis uses a combination of strategies to get the best possible worm control at the least cost for the 20,000 head of sheep he manages. March 2013 BEYOND THE BALE all drench groups were effective against Haemonchus -- a rare feat these days -- whilst levamisole and BZs were ineffective against scour worms." Mr Curtis subscribes to the free monthly WormBoss News email newsletter, which provides access to the latest regional worm outlook from around Australia and feature articles. "I have a good read through the latest updates from WormBoss," he said. "They only take five minutes to read, and I then feel more comfortable that I'm across any potential issues that might be a problem in my region." To receive the free WormBoss newsletter by email, click the Subscribe to WormBoss icon on the home page of the WormBoss website at www.wormboss.com. au and fill in your details. WormBoss is a website that offers help for producers with drenching decisions, by providing regional Drench Decision Guides, regional worm control programs, and a substantial library of information on worm control. The aim of WormBoss is to help producers reduce unnecessary drenching and minimise the onset of drench resistance, while increasing animal productivity and profitability. WormBoss has been a favourite with sheep producers since it was launched in 2005 and now it is even better. Following a major upgrade funded by AWI and the Sheep CRC, the website is now hosted by the Sheep CRC and has many new, improved and easy to use features. The WormBoss website complements the FlyBoss website (www.flyboss.org.au) also hosted by the Sheep CRC. The LiceBoss website (www. liceboss.com.au) will also be transferred in due course to provide growers with an interrelated suite of parasite control websites with the best information and the most cost efficient management into the future.