Benchmarking Australian sheep parasite control practices: a national online survey

A Colvin1, I Reeve2, S Walkden-Brown1

1Animal Science, School of Environmental and Rural Science, University Of New England; 2School of Rural Futures, University of New England

An online national survey of Australian sheep producers to benchmark Australian sheep parasite control practices in 2018 received 354 responses to the full survey. Mean reported rainfall in 2018 was 407mm which was lower than the mean average annual rainfall for those surveyed (557mm). The highest source of income from on farm enterprises came from wool (41%) followed by sheep meat (27.6%). The top three methods for worm control over the past 5 years were planned preventative treatments (74%), preparing clean pastures by spelling paddocks (61%) and treatment based on faecal worm egg count (WEC, 54%). The proportion of respondents using WEC monitoring in 2018 was 38.5%. The mean number of WEC monitors was 3.1/year for all classes and was the same across all classes. The overall mean frequency of anthelmintic treatment for worms was 2.4/year. The proportion of respondents conducting a formal or informal drench resistance test in the last 5 years was 36.7%. The reported incidence of flystrike in sheep was 2.4% and the most popular control methods were timing of crutching (76.4%), preventative chemical treatment (75.9%), timing of shearing (63.1%), mulesing sheep (46.8%) and genetic selection (46.4%). Most respondents who mulesed used pain relief (86.6% in ewe lambs and 90.9% in wether lambs).Visual selection for breeding rams that are less susceptible to flystrike was used by 43%, whilst 40.4% used ASBV traits. Most respondents reported ‘no lice seen’ over 5 years (54.4%), 29.1% saw live lice and 31.4% saw sheep rubbing. Over 5 years the majority of respondents treated for lice off shears (41.2%) with 50.3% giving no lice treatment, 19.2% short wool treatment and 14.4% long wool treatment. The importance of various sources of information on parasite control and regional and enterprise based variation in practices were also assessed and will be presented.


Dr Colvin received a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture with honours from the University of Sydney in 2000 and managed a ram semen collection centre and artificial insemination service as well as a ruminant parasitology laboratory for New England Veterinary Centres in Armidale, NSW. She started her PhD in 2003 on the potential for the use of intensive rotational grazing for worm control in a cool temperate, summer dominant environment. She completed her studies in 2006 and was awarded her PhD in 2007. She worked as a casual academic for many years, marking and lecturing at the University of New England as well as on the Information Nucleus Flock database and AskBill. She worked casually for ParaBoss from 2016 to 2018 before starting as a research fellow managing the Benchmarking Sheep Parasite Control survey funded by Australian Wool Innovation. She is also involved in implementing mobile acquired data for surveys on an ACIAR project developing small holder goat production systems and marketing in Lao and Vietnam.

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