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November seasonal focus

23 Oct 2023
  1. In Victoria, coccidiosis in calves was reported over the winter months, and cases are continuing due to the wet spring in many areas. The disease can be seen in young calves (first week of life) but is more commonly seen in calves in the 3-12m age range. Signs include severe scouring with blood in the faeces, inappetence and death. Diagnosis is confirmed by veterinary inspection. Coccidiosis oocysts (infective stages) develop and survive in muddy conditions, so shifting calves to a fresh hill paddock will often help. In-feed preventives are available. For specific treatments, see your veterinarian.
  2. Cryptosporidiosis or ‘crypto’ is also seen in calves throughout Australia. It is usually seen at 3-6 weeks of age and can prove very difficult to treat. Infective cysts build up in calf pens and paddocks, so infection pressure is highest later in the season. Since it is zoonotic (also infects humans) extra care needs to be taken when handling affected calves. A new vaccine to prevent crypto has been announced in Europe but is not yet available to use on farm.
  3. Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries continues to carry out testing of cattle ticks for resistance. Over the past ten years, the incidence of resistance to many common chemical groups (amitraz, organophosphates, synthetic pyrethroids, fluazuron) has been steadily increasing, but no resistance has yet been confirmed to the ML (mectin) class. However, given the popularity of this chemical group to treat not just ticks but also buffalo fly, lice and worms, as well as reports of resistance from overseas, it may just be a matter of time. Testing is strongly encouraged for all cattle producers, since continuing to use an ineffective treatment will lead to high levels of pasture contamination with ticks and their infective larvae, increasing economic losses from tick worry and tick fever.
  4. Across Northern Australia, buffalo fly numbers are increasing and the swarm is spreading southwards. Producers are encouraged to count flies on cattle to see if they have reached an economic threshold (100/side or 200/beast for beef cattle), as well as to check which individual cattle in the mob are worst affected. These ‘susceptible’ animals can be drafted for individual treatment and/or culling as they account for the highest numbers of flies completing their life cycle. Over time a fly-resistant herd can be achieved by selection. Introducing dung beetles also helps keep buffalo fly numbers down.
  5. Tasmania confirmed the first cases of theileriosis just this year. This blood disease spread by bush ticks causes anaemia, abortion and death, with outbreaks increasing around the world. Tasmanian Department officials are keen to hear reports of any spread of this disease from the original cases. If you see any cases of cattle with unexplained abortion, anaemia or see bush ticks on cattle, report to your veterinarian or contact the Department of Natural Resources & Environment. This deadly disease also occurs in VIC, NSW, WA and Queensland, with occasional cases in SA and NT.
  6. Barber’s pole worm has remained active across the winter months in sheep and goats, so despite it being a dry start to spring in many areas it is important to stay vigilant. The best insurance policy is to conduct regular worm egg counts in your flocks.
  7. Taking care of your vulnerable stock (weaner lambs and kids and pregnant/ lactating ewes and does) should be the focus over the coming months. With limited access to high quality feed, animals are at risk of a further suppressed immune response leaving them vulnerable to incoming larvae.
  8. If you have started containment feeding this will be helping reduce the larval pasture contamination and will provide you with clean paddocks later in the season.  In addition, the access to high quality feed will be assisting flocks to mount a stronger immune response when challenged.
  9. The warm dry weather can benefit our cause as any larvae hatching from eggs will be dying off quickly. Keep in mind leaking troughs, gullies, riverbanks and springs that are beginning to open will provide sufficient moisture for eggs to hatch. So, the larvae will still be about. Remember Worm Egg Counts are your friend.
  10. When you need to treat make sure you are using a drench you know to be effective on your property. If you are unsure conduct a drench check.

For the sheep producers, Lucilia cuprina is normally on the increase at this time, and if weather has been favourable for flystrike, careful monitoring and planning is required. Remember the three conditions required for flystrike to occur: susceptible sheep, presence of flies, favourable weather. USE this information to plan your campaign.

Check out the ParaBoss tools that you can use to help you plan and execute a flystrike management plan this season.

Consider your chemical choices and options carefully. Rotation is the key here. Use the resources developed by Australian Wool Innovation to help you to choose the right product for your situation.

Click here for information on chemical choice for flystrike.

Whilst on the topic of sheep flystrike, check out the recording from our recent webinar on the topic.

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