Leading The Way With Innovative Parasite Detection Technology

Western AG is excited to be able to offer our clients the latest in parasite detection technology instore. ‘Parasight’ is a five-minute push-button automated Faecal Egg Count (FEC) method with significantly less variability and increased accuracy for the identification and count of Strongyle and Nematodirus ova in Eggs Per Gram (EPG). Parasight uses fluorescence imaging technology and automated software algorithm to accurately detect FEC.

 

Best practise for worm drenching is to test before you drench, this enables you to:

  • Make informed decisions

  • Save money by reducing drenching

  • Drench strategically

  • Reduce the chance of resistance developing to the drench through overuse

  • Monitor drench efficacy

  • Monitor for potential pasture contamination

  • Reduce the chance of potential production loss

  • Select worm resistant sheep

 

Speak with your local Western AG Animal Health Specialist to discuss how to collect the dung for the FEC test. Once the test is complete you will be emailed a copy of the image and results along with recommendations. These results are then stored on a database enabling you to view your FEC results, recommendations and treatment (if applicable) at any time.

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Figure 1 & 2. Faecal Egg Count (FEC) image produced by Parasight

The pre-lamb drench…. A strategic move on worms!

The pre-lamb drench is one of 3 important strategic drenches to control worms. The other two strategic drenches being the Summer drench and a Weaning drench.

 

As sheep mature into adults, their immunity to worms also develops and matures. Their ultimate level of worm-resistance depends on their genetics and their exposure to worms. However, prior to lambing and during lactation that immunity temporarily declines.

The increased energy and protein demands placed on a late pregnant and lactating ewe results in a reduced immune response which leads to increased susceptibility to worms. Not only does this impact her health and her ability to grow her fetus and produce milk but it also leads to pastures becoming more contaminated with larvae.

 

As the ewe continues to graze on contaminated pastures the parasite larvae levels increase and she is unable to dispel the new infection because of her poor immunity. This is referred to as a ‘Periparturient Egg Rise’, the temporary loss of naturally acquired immunity to internal parasites that results in higher shedding of gastro-intestinal parasite eggs. This temporary loss of immunity typically starts about 2 weeks prior to and up to 8 weeks after giving birth. This is well demonstrated in a study by (Beasley, Khan and Windon, 2006) see chart below. This study showed that dry ewes run alongside pregnant and lactating ewes had FEC that remained at 200 EPG while the pregnant and lactating ewes FEC started to climb 2 weeks prior to lambing and increased to over 2000 EPG by day 42 post lambing.

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Figure 3. Worm egg count by ewe lactation status (Source: Beasley, Khan and Windon, 2006)

The result is a worm contaminated lambing paddock. As lambs begin to graze they ingest the larvae, given that they have little immunity to worms their growth, long-term productivity and even survival rate can be impacted. There are also further consequences with flow-on contamination to other sheep and paddocks on the property when sheep are later moved into and out of those lambing paddocks.

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Figure 4. The roundworm life cycle (Source: Sheep CRC)

In summary strategic drenching is just one tool that should be utilised in an effective worm control program. Non-chemical control tools also play an important role, including FEC monitoring, nutrition, grazing management and breeding more resistant stock. Working with you to develop an effective worm control program is just one of the many things we can do to improve your livestock production. Contact your local Western AG Animal Health Specialist to discuss the best program for you.

Article produced by - Krysta Hinge, Western AG Ballarat