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Is your vet an integral part of your parasite management program?

14 Dec

Parasite management is a key component of best practice production. Keeping your parasites in check allows for your sheep to be productive and profitable. 

Dr Sophie Hemley is a practicing vet in rural NSW with a keen interest in sheep. She sat down with Dr Emily Buddle, an engagement specialist and SA based producer, to discuss what parasite issues wool producers should be on the lookout for this summer. 

Q: With predictions suggesting we are expecting a wetter summer in some parts of Australia, what are some of the big issues wool producers may face with parasites?    

The biggest concern that comes to mind when we are talking about warm and wet conditions is flystrike.  

Flystrike is a serious welfare concern that, as most wool growers would be aware – is caused primarily by Lucilia cuprina, better known as the Australian sheep blowfly. Although flystrike can occur at any time of the year, warm wet conditions provide flies with the perfect opportunity to strike. Blowfly activity increases when temperatures over 17°C, wind speeds less than 30km/hr and rainfall keeps the sheep’s skin moist for two or more days. Conditions such as fleece rot and dermatophilosis (lumpy wool) are commonly diagnosed as a result of summer rain, both conditions also predispose sheep to flystrike.  

Q: We’re experiencing shearer shortages so what did this mean for fly management and animal welfare? 

Shearer shortages are forcing many producers to reevaluate when and how often they shear, which in turn results in changes to a property’s annual fly management plan. More reliance is being placed on fly preventative chemicals and many producers are looking to crutch more frequently to reduce their flock’s flystrike risk.  

Q: What are your top three tips for fly management over summer 

  1. If you are experiencing a shearer shortage, consider crutching your flock in the interim. There are a number of contractors who have crutching trailers and many growers are now crutching their own flocks through a sheep handler. Crutching and shearing can give up to six weeks’ fly protection.  
  2. When using a fly prevention chemical, adhere to the label directions. Ensure you have chosen the right chemical for the length of wool, you use the correct application method and periodically check your dose rate. Always consider the wool withhold period when choosing a prevention chemical to apply. If rain is on the forecast, ensure enough time between the application and the rain, if unsure talk to the manufacturer of the product for the best information. The FlyBoss website has a handle product tool to help producers determine the best product to use for their situation.  
  3. If at all possible select a paddock where fly activity is likely to be less. For example a watercourse is likely to be more protected than an open paddock and therefore have higher fly activity.  

Q: How important is it for wool growers to have a continued relationship with their local vets and why? 

It is really important for wool growers to have a relationship with their local vet as they will be able to act as a sounding board for revisions to your annual fly prevention plan and are a wealth of knowledge on available products. Vets are also an integral part of livestock management, providing growers with invaluable advice on how to maximise the productivity of your sheep and enhance your on-farm biosecurity to ensure good animal health and welfare. 

For more information on parasite management and fly control visit paraboss – paraboss.com.au