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Australian Sheep Vets Conference September 2011

Dr Brown Besier, DAFWA, Albany, and Australian Sheep Vets president gives us a concise review of a recent Australian Sheep Vets conference in South Australia:

A very successful ASV conference at the Barossa valley in September this year is a clear vote of confidence in the sheep industry by the veterinary profession. Just on 100 delegates attended the 2 day event, which included some 38 presentations on a wide variety of topics, and a visit to the new Adelaide University Veterinary School campus.

The conference theme was “The Sheep Vet’s Toolbox”, with the aim of discussing progress in sheep health and production subjects, new and old, and pointing to future possibilities and challenges. Parasites featured heavily amongst the subjects - as always, they are a central part of any discussion of sheep diseases.

One session tackled the on-going industry problems of external parasites, with long-time ASV supporter Peter James (DEEDI, Queensland) summarising current theory and general recommendations for sheep lice and blowfly control.
The following presentations reported trials into the effectiveness of mulesing alternatives (Leah Tyrell, University of Melbourne), the use (or under-use) of the National Wool Declaration (John Plant), and the application of flystrike preventive treatments (Patrick Kluver, Novartis).

The main messages are the need for better information extension, as there is a big difference from on farm practice to ideal practice in many situations.

The lengthy worm control session included eight presentations. The scene was set regarding the current theory behind sustainable control by Brown Besier (Department of Agriculture and Food WA), largely revolving around the “refugia” concept, and the need for highly effective drenches for strategic treatments.

Steve Love (Department of Industry and Investment NSW) gave a state-by-state update of the drench resistance picture based on faecal worm egg count reduction tests, showing an expected but unwelcome increase in resistance to all drench types, including Moxidectin. Worm control recommendations were then presented from several regions: summer rainfall region (Barber’s Pole Worm areas), Lewis Kahn (University of New England), southern tablelands (Jeff Eppleston, LHPA) and Mediterranean WA - Brown Besier, Kangaroo Island - Greg Johnson).

A very interesting paper was then presented by Ian Carmichael (SARDI, South Australia) on the roles of nutrition and worm infections on prime lamb production - some significant losses where worms are not controlled.

As an addition to the parasite sessions, company veterinarians presented insights into new sheep anthelmintics and their potential roles.

The recent increase in control options, and opportunities to reduce drench resistance development, are evident with the release last year of Monepantel (Justin Bailey, Novartis Animal Health), and the expected availability of a Derqantel-Abamectin combination Peter Little, Pfizer Animal Health).

A new form of “triple combination” anthelmintic (Naphthalophos, Abamectin and a Benzimidazole), again expected shortly, was also detailed (Brad O’Hagan, Jurox).

As a whole, the conference easily fulfilled the aim of updating a large number of industry advisers on current recommendations and new areas under investigation (parasites were just one of many subjects).

The massive number of anti-parasitic products means that advising farmers of the most appropriate choices can be a real minefield, and we appreciated the input by the several companies involved.

In addition to those mentioned above, others participating were Bayer, Coopers and Virbac. As always, the industry organisations MLA and AWI generously gave their support.

Above all, this was a very convivial conference - being in the Barossa Valley, the local beverage helped to get the conversation going!

As a final comment: once again, an Australian Sheep Veterinarians conference demonstrated the enormous range and depth of technical expertise, and the commitment of our association to the sheep industry.