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Home News Monthly seasonal focus February Seasonal Focus

February Seasonal Focus

23 Jan 2023

Don’t go on holidays with your parasite management!

With the festive season behind us, now is NOT the time to be on holidays with your parasite management. The spring of 2022 set up conditions for a bumper season for worms and flies, as well as ticks. Lice are bubbling along as always. Weather conditions are varied across the continent, and conditions at the time of writing this article range from flooding in the north of the country and Murray-Darling basin to bushfires and heatwaves in other areas. Never a dull moment!

A consistent question being asked relates to controlling worms in flood-affected pastures, and unfortunately, there are no hard and fast rules of thumb for this issue aside from test – don’t guess! Having knowledge of what’s going on with your livestock and understanding a little about the parasite life cycle can help you minimise the impacts.

Worms this month

Keep in mind that you need to be thinking about both the worms in your animals and on your pastures. Make use of the hotter weather (if experiencing it) to assist in the clean-up of pastures carrying heavy worm larva contamination from the wetter cooler conditions and flooding.

 👉 Test – don’t guess! There is no need to be in the dark or flying blind on the worm populations inside of your animals.

 👉 The latest from the lab: Phil Stein of Dawbuts Veterinary Parasitology Laboratory, Camden says that there is a huge variation in worm egg counts from mobs on the same property in recent weeks.
“We’ve had several cases where most ewe mobs will have low counts but one or two will be sky high. This probably reflects both the ewe susceptibility (related to nutrition, body condition score, pregnancy, and lactation status) as well as the history of the paddock they’re in. It’s a good reminder to check each mob and not just treat the property as a single unit.”

“Another thing we’re seeing at this stage of the season is producers testing mobs of lambs that have been on Barbervax. Many of these are throwing up very high worm egg counts. You need to bear in mind that Barbervax will help keep worm egg counts low, but if the pasture contamination is very high the vaccine can be overwhelmed. Also, black scour worm numbers can rise quickly so these mobs may need a drench with an effective broad-spectrum product.”

Monitoring is the key to knowing:

  1. what your worm egg counts are
  2. what the species of worms present are and
  3. how effective your drench was

Plan ahead to ensure you are drenching to best practice guidelines, including testing, as well as ensuring you are able to source the right drench for the job.

Read the label – always read the label to be sure you are aware of the withholding period (WHP) and export slaughter interval (ESI) of your products. Knowing the correct dose rates is also critical to ensuring the product does its job for you. Always adhere to the label when using parasiticides.

If you have the need to look up the chemical label, and you don’t have the label with you (i.e. not in the vicinity of the product in its container) you can easily look up the chemical label using the ParaBoss product search tool. Using this tool, you can search for the product and then view the label. This is particularly handy if making decisions in the office! Click here to access the tool.

Flies this month

 👉 Plenty of widespread fly activity in sheep as well as buffalo flies in cattle over many areas.
Sheep producers are reminded to consider the three factors required for flystrike to occur in their strategy to minimise their impact in flocks. The three factors are outlined in the illustration below. Consider these factors as part of how you will disrupt the flies on your property.

LOOKUP AWI’s Flystrike resources here.

A useful tool to use to help you understand your long term fly risk better is the ParaBoss Flystrike risk simulator tool, which you can find here.
While you are there, check out the other helpful tools that you can use to help in your fly management efforts this season and into the future.

 👉 For buffalo flies on cattle, now is the time to check numbers on cattle to see if there is a need to treat. Long-acting treatments such as eartags applied before the end of the year may have a reduced protection period due to resistance. Assess burdens and treat with a knock-down product, rotating to a different chemical class from that last used.

Ticks this month

👉 Warm wet conditions are favouring ticks – so be on the lookout for all types of ticks. Importantly, if trading in livestock, be sure to undertake some biosecurity protocols to ensure that you are not bringing a tick problem onto your property. (this goes for all species and parasites!)

👉 For northern producers, now is the time to consider the timing of an ‘end-of-season’ knockdown treatment to minimise the number of cattle ticks carried on the pastures over winter.

👉 For southern producers, take note that theileriosis has now been diagnosed in a home-bred cow in northwest Tasmania. This protozoan disease is spread by bush ticks and Tasmania DPI have a project in place to search for and map out bush tick numbers across the state.

Bush ticks are also being found in large numbers in southwest Western Australia as well as in Victoria.

Get all the info you need about ticks here.


👉 Be prepared and plan ahead for livestock introductions!

We have seen a few cases of poor biosecurity protocols resulting in the introduction of parasites not previously observed on the property prior to new stock arriving. A frequent example is resistant barber’s pole worms coming through the gate along with a truckload of sheep. This causes headaches for those producers affected.

There are some sound management practices that can minimise the risk of such introductions, and this starts with having a biosecurity management plan for your property that has protocols for introductions. A little forward planning here will save a lot of headaches in effecting management and control after you are aware of the problem.

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