A 2010 trial on six New England properties* showed that the typical annual cost of worms in this region was $11.09 per Merino ewe, but by implementing the WormBoss program, this could be reduced to $5.80. That reduction in costs is nearly 50% and is mostly from reducing worm-related deaths.
New England sheep producers are being supported to implement the WormBoss program thanks to a 3-year project funded through Meat & Livestock Australia’s Producer Demonstration Sites program.
The project directly assists 30 local sheep producers to implement the WormBoss worm control practices on their properties. In turn, those producers provide the focus of the Producer Demonstration Site project, allowing other producers, both regionally and nationally, to follow their progress and see what is involved.
Deb Maxwell, ParaBoss Operations Manager, who runs the project said, “The WormBoss worm control program is a very practical, proven and cost-effective way to control sheep worms; it’s had an enormous impact on my property.
“Integrated programs are highly successful as they don’t rely on just one strategy, such as drenching, to combat the problem.
“This year, three and a half months after a short acting drench at weaning, my weaners still have zero egg counts thanks to the low worm-risk paddock I prepared for them.
“Despite the dry weather, other producers have given two, sometimes three, drenches in this time,” said Dr Maxwell.
The WormBoss program uses four strategies: preparing low worm-risk paddocks for susceptible sheep; breeding worm resistant sheep; using effective drenches while minimising further development of drench resistance; and drenching at strategic times (e.g. pre-lambing, weaning, first summer drench) while other drenches are based on worm egg counts and the WormBoss Drench Decision Guide.
MLA’s Producer Demonstration Sites Program will fund nine workshops over three years in the New England region, and will support the participating producers to implement the WormBoss program, including a Drench Resistance Test and routine worm egg counts (WormTests).
Local producers are invited to attend each workshop to progressively learn about the strategies and practices, to see how other producers integrate them into their management and to hear about the results they achieve.
A further 20 producers are invited to become project participants. By implementing the program in one mob, they can receive reduced costs for WEC monitoring and a Drench Resistance test, as well as advice on implementing the program.
The first workshop was held near Guyra in mid-February, attracting nearly 60 attendees. The whole WormBoss program was explained, with extra attention given to the aspects that were relevant for the following months: preparing low worm-risk paddocks and conducting a Drench Resistance Test.