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Barber's Pole Worm loves warm weather

Watch out for drench resistance in your flock!

Barber’s Pole Worm (Haemonchus contortus) loves warm, humid weather and farmers are urged to brave the heat and get out into the paddocks to check worm egg counts.

“Recent hot, dry conditions in the New England and North West may have reduced the survival of larval stages on pasture but monitoring is the only way to know what is happening in your sheep. Don’t guess, worm test,” warned Northern Tablelands Local Land Services District Vet, Andrew Biddle.

“Barber’s Pole Worms are an ongoing problem for farmers on the Northern Tablelands, and hot, wet seasonal conditions are ideal for the survival of worm eggs on pasture. Most sheep producers are well aware of the need to manage Barber’s Pole Worm, however it is vitally important not to get blasé about managing drench resistance.”

“Early spring weather following a mild winter provided a longer season for worms last year so paddock contamination has been high all summer. Weather conditions going into the autumn will determine how long the Barber’s Pole season lasts.”

“We continue to get reports of losses in local flocks due to Barber’s Pole Worm and we’re urging producers to commit to ongoing monitoring and integrated parasite management.”

“Routine drenching for worms will inevitably lead to the development of resistance in worm populations. Egg count monitoring and strategic drench rotation needs to be a regular part of your farm routine in order to slow the evolution of drench resistance.”

The Barber’s Pole Worm lives in the abomasum (the fourth stomach) where it sucks blood causing anaemia (blood loss). Signs of anaemia include paleness of the gums, skin and conjunctiva (inner eyelids). In severe cases the inner eyelids and gums may appear white.

Some animals will display signs of ‘bottle jaw’, an accumulation of fluid that may appear as a swelling under the jaw and sometimes around the face, resulting from extreme protein loss in the blood and an imbalance of bodily fluids.

Flocks infected with Barber’s Pole Worm will experience ill thrift, profound weakness, production losses and death. Weak animals may lag behind, and collapse or die when mustered.

Drench resistance status can only be confirmed through a worm egg count reduction test, where an egg count is taken before drenching and then 10-14 days after drenching to determine if the worm burden has been reduced.

The Worm Boss website provides extensive information on worm control, and also has a useful Drench Decision Guide to assist in deciding when to drench, the length of protection needed and when to re-test to check the level of infestation.

For more advice on internal parasites, drench options and how to avoid drench resistance contact Northern Tablelands Local Land Services at our offices in Armidale on 02 6770 2000, Glen Innes on 02 6732 8800, Inverell on 02 6720 8300 and Tenterfield on 02 6739 1400.

Media contact:  Annabelle Monie 0429 626 326