After two good seasons we have been reminded of how devastating sheep worms can be and the importance of having good strategies in place to stay on top of them.
After a lagging harvest and before autumn lambing begins, now is the ideal time to plan for good worm control over the year ahead.
This should involve a two-tiered approach, using worm tests to assess current burdens and inform good drench decisions, and paddock planning and management, to ensure you have access to 'clean paddocks' when they are needed.
Worm tests should be conducted on all mobs of sheep.
At this point many worm tests from local sheep are finding all worm types present, NOT just the usual summer suspect of barber's pole worm. Scour worms have persisted in these unseasonably mild, moist conditions.
Producers with a good handle on worm management may find a drench is not required - where worm egg counts are low and sheep move onto clean pasture a drench may do more harm and good by risking the development of drench resistance.
But where egg counts are up, an effective drench should be given and sheep moved onto clean paddocks.
This drench should have a minimum of three actives, or include one of the new generation drench products.
Worm tests should be repeated after 10-14 days to ensure that the treatment worked, and this is called a Drench Check.
Take some time to consider which paddocks you will use for lambing and weaning.
These must be managed carefully well ahead of time to ensure they are 'clean' - as free as possible of worm eggs and larvae, as pregnant and lactating ewes and weaners are the most susceptible classes of sheep to the effects of worms.
This means not grazing with sheep for up to six months beforehand.
This interval is reduced when conditions have been hot or dry.
As it has been neither of these this summer, it would still be reasonable to plan for a two to three-month clean graze interval for now and be comfortable that worm contamination is at a minimum.
Through winter the clean graze interval will be back up to six months. Paddocks used for lambing should not be used for weaning in the same year.
This is because pregnancy and lactation suppress a ewe's immunity to worms and her egg output increases at this time, potentially creating a heavily contaminated environment.
It is also for this reason that compact lambing periods are a good idea as the longer a lamb is on its mother, the more worms it may become exposed to.
If you have any questions please get in contact by calling the Central West Local Land Services Forbes Office on 6850 1600.
Alternatively you will find excellent information on worm control at http://www.wormboss.com.au/sheep-goats/programs/sheep.php
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