The New England WormBoss Producer Demonstration Site project was run from 2016 to 2019 and was funded under Meat and Livestock Australia’s Producer Demonstration Site Program. The project directly assisted producers to implement the WormBoss program and let other local producers watch on and see the results.
Andrew and Elizabeth Jackson and their manager, Mitchell Hope, run a 1500 breeding ewe and sheep trading operation at Harwalk Park about 10 km east of Guyra. They joined the WormBoss program to see whether there were new techniques or processes that could improve their worm management.
Their sheep are run on open improved country from black cracking clays to red basalt, which already had sown pastures when they took over some years ago.
With a typical New England April joining and September lambing, they shear in May when it’s not so cold.
Mitchell and Elizabeth conducted the DrenchTest, and they both considered it very easy to do and very useful. It came as surprise to find their drench resistance results were not too bad considering the level of sheep trading that Andrew does.
As they had already been using combination drenches regularly, their drench choices didn’t really need to change much.
Mitchell attempted to prepare both low-worm lambing paddocks and weaning paddocks. And said, “The lambing paddocks were quite straightforward, because we grow fodder crops for the weaners and the timing of the cropping and growing period matched with when we needed to keep the paddocks empty to prevent further contamination. However, preparing lambing paddocks was quite difficult.”
Mitchell runs the single-bearing ewes on prepared pasture, but the twinners go onto crop that can’t be prepared as it needs to be used during what should be the preparation period.
While some of the WormBoss co-operators use a long acting drench during that preparation period, this is impossible at Harwalk Park due to the trading operation.
“I can’t predict when sheep will be sold, therefore we can’t use long acting products with their long withholding periods,” said Mitchell.
Despite the difficulties with trading, which can make resting paddocks difficult, as well as the ongoing drought, Mitchell is continuing to try to prepare both lambing and weaning paddocks.
Mitchell said “I find that good fences are needed to keep sheep where I want them during the preparation period and it’s useful to consider sheep movements across the property, not just in the prepared paddocks.
When it comes to WormTests, Mitchell uses both the local laboratories, depending which kits get picked up from the local store. But again, their trading operation adds some complexity.
“WEC tests have a limitation as a drenching indicator for the ewes because when sheep are bought they get quarantine drenched and added to the main mob. This ends up with a mix of drench histories within a mob and so drenching is generally based on the previous drench time of the earliest drenched group in the mob.
Nevertheless Mitchell finds WormTesting useful, especially with the young sheep, as about half the time it shows a drench isn’t required. Mitchell considered that participation in the project was quite helpful and he is now fairly confident about managing worms effectively.