The results from the recently completed ParaBoss WEC Quality Assurance Program are in, and there were some surprises.
Although the QA Program confirmed that for the majority of the participants the results were well within the accepted limits, a significant number returned results that were too low, too high or too variable.
As a new service to producers, ParaBoss provides endorsement of successful operators, and these can be found on the WormBoss Service Providers pages. Check whether your provider is listed. (Note: worm egg count providers not on this list were not necessarily unsuccessful, as they may not have participated in this round).
The program involved sending sets of faecal samples to participants, and statistically comparing their results with the expected counts. A similar QA program was run by the WA Department of Ag some years ago, but in the meantime, operators have had little chance to check their performance.
Dr Brown Besier, the manager of the ParaBoss WEC QA program said, “We were surprised at the number of results that fell outside the accepted statistical limits. WECs are an important tool in worm management and it’s critical that livestock owners can trust the results. Inaccurate results could mean that worm disease may not be detected, or alternatively, that drenches are given where they are not justified.”
The program was promoted to WEC providers across Australia during the year and 49 locations with about 130 operators participated. While many other providers did not participate, this round captured most of the key operators. ParaBoss has endorsed 29 providers, with a further eighteen laboratories currently taking part in a supplementary round after receiving feedback and having a chance to review and modify their process.
Dr Besier said, “Worm egg counting may seem a fairly straightforward procedure, but there are plenty of potential pitfalls, even for experienced people. If your WEC provider is not on the list of ParaBoss-endorsed providers, now might be the time to encourage them to participate in the 2020 round so you can be assured that the results you receive are accurate.”
Learning worm egg counting has its challenges, and unless results are periodically cross-checked, processes can drift and results can wander. Good in-house training and checking is also essential when new staff come on board.
ParaBoss provided procedural information to the participating labs when they registered and have provided an analysis of results to the operators and tips to identify causes of results outside the limits, as well as an opportunity to participate again in a supplementary round of tests.
The challenge for the 2020 round is to bring on board more of the smaller operators, especially people who may have had limited training and checking.