Check your local sheep drench resistance status online
Editorial written by Zoetis for the Summer 2020/2021 Seasons Magazine
Dr Matthew Playford from Dawbuts, Australia’s leading veterinary parasitology laboratory in Camden NSW, has been involved in developing the ground-breaking website, SheepTRAX (sheeptrax.com.au) in conjunction with Zoetis.
As well as conducting research for industry bodies and pharmaceutical companies, the Dawbuts laboratory conducts monitoring and drench resistance studies for over 2000 livestock farmers across Australia.
“Being able to present the results of hundreds of drench tests in a publicly-accessible database gives us a great sense of achievement,” Dr Playford said.
“We have received strong signals from groups such as livestock veterinarians, WormBoss users and rural retail stores that this resource is badly needed. Now it is finally being delivered.”
Using an effective sheep drench to control worms is key to a productive sheep flock. However, research shows that most sheep properties in Australia have resistant worms to one or more sheep drenches- 96 per cent to white (BZ) drenches, 96pc to clear (LEV) drenches and 87pc to Ivermectin (ML) drenches1.
This means that resistance to many of the active ingredients in sheep drenches in Australia is very common. Resistance is classified as efficacy less than a 95pc reduction in worms.
Drench resistance is a genetic trait of the worms themselves and is either created on your own farm or introduced when purchasing ewes, weaner lambs or rams. Even stray sheep may be the source of drench resistant worms.
When choosing a drench to use on your farm, WormBoss recommends three principles2:
- Use the most effective drench for your property
- Use an effective combination of two or more drench groups
- Use short-acting treatments and restrict the use of persistent products for specific purposes and high worm-risk times of year
What is SheepTRAX?
SheepTRAX is designed to assist Australian sheep producers by showing the prevalence and geographical distribution of drench resistance. The data within SheepTRAX has been gathered from hundreds of on-farm drench resistance tests, also known as faecal egg count resistance tests (FECRT), across all sheep producing areas in Australia. Sheep producers can use this data and website to:
- Improve knowledge of drench resistance
- Assist in making an informed decision of what drenches to use
- Assist in understanding the likelihood of resistance worms in purchased sheep.
SheepTRAX aims to help put evidence behind your drench selection, and therefore help maximise your return from your drench investment.
SheepTRAX shows the efficacy (from FECRTs) of over 25 drenches in easy to view comparative graphs, with up to five drenches selected at any one time. The graphs show the ‘overall’ efficacy for the drenches selected as well as the results for the key gastrointestinal worm species:
- Barber’s pole worm (Haemonchus contortus)
- Black scour worm (Trichostrongylus spp.)
- Brown stomach worm (Teladorsagia circumcincta)
- All other species
The farmer or rural stores are able to view the FECRT data at a national, state or regional level. FECRT data sets with a higher number of samples e.g. 100, have a higher reliability than smaller numbers e.g. 5.
Resistance status of farms varies, even between neighbouring properties. SheepTRAX does not predict the drench resistance found on your property or within a specific mob of sheep. It is designed to provide awareness of the severity of sheep drench-resistance in every sheep region across Australia.
It is recommended that every farm undertakes their own FECRT every two to five years to monitor the drench resistance status, or at least perform regular Drench Checks. This can be achieved easily by taking samples (direct from the sheep, or fresh samples off the ground) 14 days after a drench has been given.
When this is then compared with the worm egg count on the day of drenching, vital information about how well the drench has worked can be calculated. Dung samples should be submitted to a ParaBoss FEC QA-accredited parasitology lab, or analysed by a FECPAKG2 machine, which is in use in many stores and veterinary clinics across Australia.
All new sheep new to a property should be given a quarantine drench to avoid bringing in resistant worms. A quarantine drench contains four actives, with one of the actives being from a new drench class, which is given before or upon arrival on-farm, for example, Startect followed immediately by a Levamisole and BZ combination3. After drenching, keep all animals in a confined area with good access to feed (hay) and water for 24 hours prior to entering the paddock. It is recommended that the confinement area be fully tilled or spelled for at least six months before reuse.
To check out the new SheepTRAX website and review the local drench resistance in your area, visit sheeptrax.com.au on the Livestock Solutions website.
Wormboss (2020) SheepCRC, Armidale. https://www.wormboss.com.au/sheep-goats/news/articles/drench-resistance/national-drench-resistance-should-you-be-concerned.php
Wormboss (2020) SheepCRC, Armidale. https://www.wormboss.com.au/sheep-goats/news/articles/drenches/quarantine-drenching-getting-it-right.php
Read more from our latest Seasons magazine