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Increase returns by improving worm control in sheep

Worms cost Australian sheep producers more than any other animal health problem.

South East Local Land Services District Veterinarian, Dr. Kate Sawford said this fact has become more evident in the Braidwood region over the past couple of years, as warm conditions into autumn combined with some rain have extended the season for Barber’s pole worm.

“While losses that occur when animals die are obvious, about 80 per cent of the costs of worms are more insidious and come in the form of decreased weight gains, wool production and fertility,” Dr. Sawford said.

“These more subtle losses can cost producers $2-$10 per sheep per year.

“Drench resistance is becoming increasingly common across the region, with very high worm burdens being seen in sheep one to two weeks after drenching.”

Drench resistance occurs when worms develop the ability to survive a drench dose that previously would have killed them.

“Drench resistance varies according to management and drenching practices and geographical location, and therefore the drench resistance on your property will likely differ from that of your neighbour,” Dr. Sawford said.

“Once drench resistance develops in a property’s worm population it is likely to stay and therefore it is critical to think about how you will reduce the likelihood of ending up with drench resistant worms on your property.”

Local Land Services recommends that one of the ways to reduce the likelihood of drench resistance on your property is to combine drenching with other strategies that reduce the worm burden on pasture and in sheep.

“These strategies would include preparing low worm-risk paddocks for critical times, using ‘smart grazing’ to prepare winter weaner paddocks, and breeding and feeding worm-resistant sheep,” Dr. Sawford said.

“Regular worm eggs counts are also critical in working out when to drench and whether you have got drench resistance developing.”

On Wednesday 13 April, NSW Department of Primary Industries Veterinarian and Parasitologist Dr Stephen Love will hold a free session on controlling worms in sheep in the Braidwood region. The event will be held at Braidwood Servicemens Club, with lunch and tea provided.  Local sheep producers are encouraged to attend to hear the most up-to-date recommendations.

For more information and to RSVP please contact Nicky Clarke, South East Local Land Services Braidwood on (02) 4842 2594 or email

Media contact:

Dr. Kate Sawford, District Veterinarian Braidwood, 0427 422 530 or 02 4842 2594.