Australian sheep producers spend an estimated $93 million per year on sheep drenches, however most of the time, they don’t know if the drench is working.
The trial, which is funded by Australian Wool Innovation, will be conducted by veterinary parasitologist Dr Janina McKay-Demeler, Dawbuts Animal Health Australia, who will compare the performance of four drench test methods.
Dr McKay-Demeler said she has set up the trial so she can clearly determine the strengths and weaknesses of various approaches to drench testing.
“We have trialled the Mini-FLOTAC for drench testing in sheep in Europe and the results are impressive, but it is a different story in Australia with big mob sizes, high levels of some worms such as barber’s pole worm and more advanced drench resistance,” Dr McKay-Demeler said.
“This trial covers all of Australia and by this time next year we will be able to analyse how each of the methods performs under real-world conditions.
“The objective is better worm control for Australian sheep producers and that can only improve both welfare and productivity.”
To achieve this, sheep producers across Australia are being encouraged to collect dung samples from a mob of wormy sheep on the day of drenching, then again 14 days after the drench.
The samples will be sent to the lab and subjected to a four-way analysis.
Monaro, NSW, fine wool producer Nancy Spoljaric said knowing the resistance status of worms in her sheep would provide peace of mind.
“Monaro is tending towards more dominant summer rainfall, which is facilitating the population growth of barber’s pole worm, so we find that this worm is becoming an increasing problem in the area,” Ms Spoljaric said.
“Many of our farmers are seeing anaemia and poor performance in weaners and ewes over the late summer, especially when effective worm control has not been achieved in the spring.
“When sheep are treated for barber’s pole worm we need a high efficacy (>95 per cent worm kill), otherwise the prolific egg laying capacity of this worm results in long term pasture contamination, especially because hatched larvae can survive on the paddock for many months.
“Knowing the efficacy of the combination drenches means we can select and use drenches with increased confidence that they will do the job.”
There is no cost involved in participating in the trial, and participants will get sent the results of the tests.
If you would like to get involved, contact Dawbuts.