Play hard ball on brucellosis and Barbers Pole - Elders Rural Services

Play hard ball on brucellosis and Barbers Pole

With many flocks in the rebuild phase, now is the time to check ram testicles, pasture quality, take action to minimise Barbers Pole and plan for transitions to fodder crops.

Elders senior livestock production advisor Adam Turnbull says many of the flocks in northern NSW are ready to join and most ewes, even maidens, are in optimal mating condition. But the flush of grass brought by the January rains needed to be managed to avoid nutrition shortfalls and worm burdens.

“Some pastures have grown substantially to the point stock have been reluctant to walk through and, with the reduced stock numbers, slashing has had to be used (mechanical grazing) to allow flocks to graze paddocks rather than just one area,” Mr Turnbull said.

“Barbers Pole has been horrendous over the past month, mainly in flocks unable to spread through the pastures due to the long feed that have been preferentially grazing the same small areas, picking up larvae.”

This had led to reduced weight gains, losses and increased use of anthelmintics, Mr Turnbull said, though winter’s cooler temperatures would see the prevalence of parasites subside.

The tall, stalky feed was also less digestible, Mr Turnbull said, which meant some stock in paddocks full of grass had failed to reach target weight gains.

Improved pastures had also had quick growth without any substance to the feed and young flocks were experiencing nutritional stress.

He suggested considering the use of supplements, such as licks, for stock that will be transitioned onto fodder crops to achieve feed efficiency and maximise performance.

Finally, Mr Turnbull said, producers yet to join their flocks should conduct ram health checks inspecting feet, testicles and teeth.

“There’s been a few rams in the area diagnosed with Ovine Brucellosis, which greatly reduces fertility and ram wastage, resulting in fewer lambs and more dry ewes,” he said.

“A simple palpation test of ram testicles will reveal any abnormalities and any ram with such should be culled.”

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