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Landholders warned of recent losses from barbers pole worm

Central West landholders experiencing good seasons also need to be aware of potential animal health issues, particularly barber's pole worm.

In the last month landholders around the southern area of the central west LLS region have lost sheep due to increased cases of barber's pole worm.

Central West LLS District Vet Belinda Edmonstone is warning landholders in these regions to be aware of the issue and manage accordingly.

"Some areas of the Central west LLS region have been lucky enough to receive very good late summer/ early autumn rains," Belinda said.

"This is great news. However a good season can present some animal health issues.

The barber's pole worm lives in the fourth stomach (abomasum) of sheep. It sucks blood causing loss of production and deaths as a result of severe anaemia if the worm burden is high enough.

The female worm is a prolific egg producer. She can deposit up to 10,000 eggs per day onto pastures. The egg needs warmth and moisture to survive and hatch into the infective larvae.

A good drench program and pasture management is essential to minimise losses caused by this worm during seasons like we have. There are plenty of drench resistant strains of barber's pole worm so producers need to get sound advice on its management.

It is also very important that producers check withholding periods and export slaughter intervals on the drench they use to ensure residues do not end up affecting our markets.

"Recent conditions have allowed rapid build-up of infective larvae on pasture," said Belinda.

"Sheep showing clinical signs of barber's pole worm infestation will lag behind the mob when mustering and collapse. Their skin and gums will be very white. They may or may not have bottle jaw.

"The mob will not be doing as well as they should be and there will be a distinct tail in the mob."

As well as assessing the mob for clinical signs, monitoring worm egg output in the faeces is also a valuable tool. This is done by sending samples to a laboratory to perform faecal egg counts. Barber's pole worm can be introduce with sheep purchased in or home grown.

For further advice please call your nearest Central West LLS district vet.