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Barber's Pole Worm is a risk now

Written by Bruce Watt, Regional Veterinarian

28 January 2016

Sheep need to be monitored closely now using flock observation, worm egg counts and the barber’s pole dip stick test. As sheep producers are only too aware, sheep with BPW become anaemic, weak and often die from blood loss. So flock observation relies on moving sheep in the paddock for about 400 meters, while watching closely for any signs of sheep becoming weak and falling to the back of the mob. These sheep should then be examined for pale gums and tissues around the eyes.

Worm egg counts give a very useful indication of the number of mature worms of all species inside the sheep and therefore the amount of pasture contamination. They are also valuable in indicating whether your last drench was effective if conducted both before drenching and 10-14 days after drenching. However, worm egg counts don’t detect immature worms that are not yet laying eggs so can be deceptively low if your sheep have recently acquired a large burden of worms that are not yet mature.

Finally the barber’s pole dipstick test is very useful as an indication of the current level of BPW infestation. This test, which you can purchase from your rural merchandiser and conduct yourself, gives you an immediate indication of the level of BPW infestation.

At times like this I suggest that you monitor using all three methods and stay in touch with your animal health advisor. The Wormboss website is a great resource containing lots of useful information too.

For more information contact your Local Land Services Office.