Barbervax® is a vaccine against barber’s pole worm, which gives the Australian sheep industry a new weapon to fight an old foe. This vaccine provides a major alternative to drench-based control and will help manage drench resistance.
Barbervax will be of particular benefit in the major barber’s pole-endemic regions, e.g. the northern tablelands of NSW, where frequent drenching may be necessary to prevent sheep deaths, and where anthelmintic resistance has reduced drench options.
The vaccine is given to sheep and lambs as a series of subcutaneous injections of 1 ml, at no more than 6-week intervals to cover the barber’s pole worm-risk season (in the tablelands, generally December to April).
It is important to understand that the first two vaccinations are not able to provide protection, but they prime the lamb’s immune system so that protection occurs following the third vaccination, and lasts for at least 6 weeks. Further vaccinations need to be given each 6 weeks while there is a barber’s pole worm risk.
Once sheep have received a course of vaccine as lambs, a single boost in a subsequent season will provide 6 weeks protection.
NOTE: This schedule should be followed accurately; do not extend the gaps between vaccinations.
Barbervax is not a knockdown product; some drenches will still be required while immunity is establishing. Only the recommended pre-lambing and weaning drenches are shown in the schedule, however, other drenches may also be required; monitor as per your regional WormBoss worm control program and Drench Decision Guide.
This schedule best suits lambs born in September or October. For lambs born at a different time it is best to seek advice from your sheep advisor, your re-seller or email email@example.com.
Note: V=vaccination, the number (1–6) refers to first, second (and so on) vaccination in the series given in one barber’s pole worm season.
You should also follow the recommendations in your regional WormBoss worm control program and Drench Decision Guide. It is strongly recommended that the worm egg counts of the lambs are monitored. Ideally, a mob WormTest should be done 4–5 weeks after each effective (i.e. not the priming doses) vaccination from the third vaccination onwards, so that the result is known before the next vaccine muster. The results will inform whether a drench is required e.g. to control scour worms at the time of the next vaccination. Low counts will result in peace of mind and if a drench is not needed that will more than offset the cost of the test.
The vaccine does not replace the need for drench programs to control scour worms. Grazing management to prepare low worm-risk paddocks to avoid significant barber’s pole intake will further enhance the effectiveness of vaccination, and breeding for worm resistant sheep provides complementary longer-term worm control. Sheep in poor body condition or showing signs of worms may not respond fully to vaccination, and may require additional support.
Barbervax can be purchased from a number of suppliers (Grazag, Landmark and Walcha Veterinary Supplies). The price is between 68c and 92c per dose depending on pack size and supplier ( at December 2016).
Barbervax vaccine was trialled in three NSW goat herds with a view to registration. The results were mixed.
The following paragraphs are extracts from the report:
"Barbervax, a vaccine for Haemonchus contortus infection of sheep: attempts to extend the registration claim to include goats" by David Smith for Meat and Livestock Australia, 23 February 2016.
"Three efficacy field trials with kids were performed in the Northern Tablelands of NSW with a view to obtaining caprine registration in Australia. Unfortunately the results were mixed: one trial worked well, a second showed some positive effects, but a third failed. Because the anti-vaccine antibody responses were similar in all three trials, the underlying cause of the variable vaccine efficacy is not understood.
It was concluded that the results were too variable for registration to be granted by the regulators.
At Guyra the counts of the vaccinates were significantly reduced relative to the controls by 73% on average, at Dorrigo the figure was also statistically significant at 44% but at CSIRO, at 17%, it was not statistically significant.
The use of Barbervax in goats would be “off-label” and must be done with a veterinarian’s prescription. Initially, the vaccine might be evaluated in a small portion of a herd and the worm egg count of treated and untreated animals regularly tested.
Goat owners are reminded that Barbervax is a protective treatment against barber’s pole worm and when used in sheep relies on the use of effective anthelmintics for an initial “clean-out” of all worms, as well as ongoing use of drenches and worm egg count monitoring, as required, for scour worm control.