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Flies, Lice and Worms
Flies, lice and worms are a major concern for woolgrowers. To support woolgrowers in the prevention and treatment of parasite risks for wool sheep, the Paraboss website has been developed to house three digital tools for each major parasite risk.
Subscribe to Paraboss News, the twice monthly free email newsletter with state outlooks on the current state of sheep parasites as well as feature articles and the quick quiz to test your knowledge of sheep parasites.
Join us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/paraboss.com.au to see weekly posts on flystrike, lice and worm control.
Paraboss is funded by AWI and MLA and coordinated by the University of New England with industry oversight.
The Liceboss, Wormboss and Flyboss websites are sources of detailed management information and regional programs that will assist in managing the major parasite risks for sheep. The information and resources have been developed by expert panels of parasitologists and veterinarians from across Australia.
Flystrike is a major risk and disease for the sheep industry costing it over $173 million each year due to control, treatment and lost production expenses.
Breech and body strike are the two most common forms of flystrike with breech strike having the largest impact on the industry.
The threat from increasing blowfly resistance to the commonly used chemical applied for prevention of strike, means woolgrowers need effective long-term fly control strategies to minimise the risk of chemical resistance. They do this by only using chemicals when absolutely necessary and implementing integrated pest management strategies that incorporate non-chemical controls such as mulesing with anaesthetic and analgesia, genetic selection and timing of shearing and crutching.
Managing flystrike risk
The online woolgrower tool Flyboss can help develop a plan tailored to each individual sheep enterprise. This tool was developed by AWI, the Sheep CRC and industry partners, with the latest information on how to:
- Reduce the risk of flystrike through management and breeding
- Treat flystrike outbreaks
- Slow the development of blowfly chemical resistance
- Check flystrike risk and optimise treatment time
- Compare management systems for flystrike control tools
- Use the Products List for more information on fly and lice chemical treatments, their cost, withholding periods and export slaughter intervals
- Develop a blowfly resistance management strategy tailored to your property
- Use the WoolRes tool to assess the risk of chemical residues in the wool clip
Lice are estimated to cost the Australian sheep industry $125 million per year, although this figure was mostly likely higher in the decade to 2010.
For many woolgrowers, lice control relies on a best practice approach to chemical choice and application to remove an infestation, and good flock management to prevent reinfestation.
The management of lice on-farm is underway against a backdrop of:
- Gradual development of resistance to chemicals by insects. Resistance to the synthetic pyrethroids is wide-spread resistance, and there is known resistance to diflubenzuron and triflumuron
- Spreading of chemical resistance amongst flocks
- Pressure on fabric manufacturers and retailers to scrutinise processors' use of chemicals
- Increased scrutiny of the on-farm environment
- Increasing scrutiny of on farm health and safety
- Increasing scrutiny of animal welfare
We provide Australian woolgrowers with tools for best practice lice control to minimise woolgrowers' costs and chemical use, and improve clip quality. In addition, we fund research into new lice diagnostic methods and environmentally-friendly lousicides.
AWI is addressing these threats and attempting to lower the cost of louse control for woolgrowers in two ways:
- New products
- New diagnostic tests
Current and Recent Projects
AWI's LiceSense guide (PDF 1.0Mb) is a woolgrowers' guide to managing sheep lice in response to spreading lice infestations in all Australian states.
The LiceSense guide is a 'refresher' for lice management principles, which are:
- Find lice early
- Plan your flock protection
- Know the costs and gains
- Plan a successful treatment
The LiceSense guide does not cover all the details of lice management. Woolgrowers can also attend extra training days and seek further advice when planning lice protection and treatment for their sheep.
New lice treatments
AWI invests in several projects addressing resistance development by lice and scrutiny of lice treatments, to provide a steady stream of new tools for lice management.
A fungal biological control that colonises and kills lice needs a new commercial partner to further develop a commercially viable product.
AWI is working with a commercial partner on research into a new class of treatments that blocks the ecdysone hormone in both sheep lice and blowflies.
New diagnostic tests
A long term goal for AWI is to develop an on-farm test to detect lice that cannot be seen in wool partings on rubbing sheep. Accurate test results could avoid the need for unnecessary lice treatments off-shears, saving woolgrowers money, and reducing wool residues and the pressure for resistance development.
AWI is considering new research for a test after past investments failed to make a breakthrough.
Local lice control training - click on the link to visit the Making More From Sheep website.
For more information and to use a decision support tool to manage lice, visit Liceboss.
Liceboss offers specific information about all aspects of lice and their control and also useful decision tools on whether lice might be present, what products to use on different types of sheep and their residues and costs.
The increasing resistance of worm and fluke populations to a range of drenches is a threat to the health of the Australian sheep flock. AWI is addressing this threat through the better use of existing technologies, as well new products and methods to diagnose the severity of infestations and resistance.
Internal parasites (worms and fluke) cost the Australian sheep industry an estimated $369m per year. This cost includes mortalities and production losses (reduced wool cut, stained wool, lowered staple strength), as well as the direct costs of control (mainly drenches and labour).
Resistance by worms to the "white" and "clear" drench groups is long established. Resistance to the macrocyclic lactones or MLs (the "mectins") is now also wide-spread.
The continuing problem of selection for resistance requires the integration of non-chemical parasite management with sparing use of chemicals, despite the promise of new drench groups on the market.
AWI is addressing the problems of internal parasites and scouring in two ways:
- Better use of existing technologies.
- New products and practices.
Current and Recent Projects
Better use of existing technologies
Worm, lice and fly control can be improved in many sheep flocks by applying the principles of integrated parasite management (IPM). IPM brings together a range of chemical and non-chemical methods to tackle the parasite problem. AWI tested IPM systems across a range of wool production environments in 23 IPM-s demonstration farms across Australia.
Through the Sheep CRC, AWI invested in targeted worm treatments, research into the genetics and genomics of sheep resistance to worms, and the Haemonchus Dipstick test.
All new information from these AWI-supported programs and others flows through to the Wormboss website, produced in collaboration with the Sheep CRC. Wormboss is an encyclopaedia of everything you need to know about managing your sheep worms and is updated monthly with regional advice. It includes regionalised worm control programs, Drench Decision Guides by region, contacts for advisors and a drench search.
New products and practices
A range of tools can play a part in the management of worms: oral drenches, capsules, grazing management (such as Smart Grazing), strategic nutrition, and breeding worm-resistant sheep. Details of these tools are explained by Wormboss.
AWI and Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) are jointly investing in recommendations for managing combinations of worms, bacteria and protozoa, using experimental genetic tests for these organisms.
AWI continues to invest in research that may lead to new products and practices for the management of worms and scouring.
For more information and to use a decision support tool to manage worms, visit Wormboss.
Wormboss offers specific information about all aspects of worms and their control and also useful decision tools to help solve your worm problem and what products to use.