||Barooga, New South Wales|
||NSW non-seasonal rainfall|
||Merino wool and prime lamb production|
||Tricia Veale, Para-site Diagnostic Services, Benalla|
Tackling sheep worms has become easier and cheaper for Barooga, New South Wales, sheep producer David Stillard, who has embraced the online advisory tool WormBoss, and introduced worm egg counts into his annual health program.
Mr Stillard, who runs 600 Merinos and crossbred breeding ewes and finishes store lambs on his 650-hectare property ‘Roseneith’, won a WormBoss ‘Take Control of Worms’ promotion prize last year when he registered his interest on the WormBoss website.
The prize earned him $1000 worth of services from Benalla-based consultancy Para-Site Diagnostic Services, which developed a tailored worm strategy for his property and sheep enterprise.
Following the advice of WormBoss, Mr Stillard submitted dung samples to Tricia Veale at Para-Site Diagnostic Services, who tested worm egg counts and provided information on whether drenching was necessary and the levels of resistance on his property for the three drench groups benzimidazoles, levamisoles and the macrocyclic lactone (ML) group such as ivermectin. The results were analysed and used to form a customised worm management plan.
“In previous years I have routinely summer drenched, but having tested each flock the results showed it was not necessary,” Mr Stillard says. “My egg count results have been much lower than I anticipated. Where I would have routinely drenched up to four times for worms, and twice for liver fluke—the results showed I only needed to drench for worms once and have had no issues with liver fluke at all.
“The WormBoss prize has been worthwhile. If I had not conducted the tests, unnecessary drench would have been used and the results would have been unsatisfactory, with resistance building and the financial cost incurred.”
With an enterprise that, prior to the drought, included finishing lambs, Mr Stillard is also mindful of keeping incoming stock separate because of the risk of introducing worms to the remainder of the flock.
“The advice to me was to quarantine and drench bought-in lambs, which I see as simple and beneficial management practice,” he says.
Worms cost Australian sheep producers more than $300 million a year and this is rising with increasing drench resistance. Mr Stillard says he now considers worm and fluke monitoring a vital tool for the future of his business and is looking forward to increasing stock numbers as seasonal conditions improve.
WormBoss is seen as the world’s leading sheep worm website, developed by the Australian Sheep Industry CRC and AWI. It is supported by Animal Health Alliance (Australia) Ltd, which is the national association representing drench manufacturers and resellers in the interests of appropriate and sustainable use of drenches. It has been compiled by leading Australian parasitologists, consultants, drench companies and state departments of primary industries.