Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Dipstick Spots Worms

Sheep farmers will welcome a quick and easy test for Barber's Pole Worm this spring thanks to research from the Australian Sheep Industry Cooperative Research Centre. The test detects blood in the sheep's faeces to identify whether Barber's Pole Worms are present and what level of damage they are causing.

The breakthrough came when Dr Ian Colditz, a Senior Research Scientist with CSIRO Livestock Industries in Armidale, asked, "Why don't we just test for blood in the sheep's faeces?" Drs Colditz and Le Jambre have since devised a method to do just that.

Unlike other sheep intestinal worms, infections with Barber's Pole Worm can rise very rapidly resulting in deaths only weeks after a drench due to massive blood loss from these blood-sucking worms.

Dr Brown Besier, Principal Veterinary Parasitologist from DAWA and Parasite Management Program Leader for the Sheep CRC said, "In southern Australia this is a sporadic event happening in some years when the combination of rain and temperature is just right. It often catches farmers off-guard in early summer and late autumn, when there can be considerable sheep losses."

To do the test, farmers will collect fresh dung from the ground. After mixing and diluting for about 3 minutes, they will dip a test stick into the final mix and read its color in a further 60 seconds. On the spot they'll have an indicator of the infection in that mob and can follow recommendations on whether to drench or not.

The Sheep CRC are working with a commercial company to release the test later this year through rural merchandisers.

Australian Sheep Industry Cooperative Research Centre (CRC)

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