Sheep producers urged to monitor flocks for fly strike

flystrike-8Sheep producers have been urged to monitor their flocks for signs of fly strike, after recent rainfall in parts of the agricultural region.

WA Department of Agriculture and Food senior research officer Johan Greeff said recent rainfall combined with warm temperatures would elevate the risk of fly strike.

“Growers who have sheep with a good coverage of wool should check their sheep for breech and body strike, especially if there has been a flush of feed,” Dr Greeff said.

“If there are any signs of flystrike, growers should act quickly and treat accordingly.”

The department is continuing its long-running research, funded by Australian Wool Innovation (AWI), into breeding sheep that are more resistant to fly strike and identifying indicator traits for breech strike.

The Rylington Merino worm resistant flock was recently incorporated into the AWI Breech Strike Merino Flock, which will move to the department’s Katanning Research Facility in coming months.

Over the past decade, the department has used these flocks to develop Australian Sheep Breeding Values (ASBVs) for dags, wrinkles and breech cover – the most important indicator traits for breech strike in the WA agricultural region.

Dr Greeff has been reviewing the latest data from these flocks to investigate the other underlying causes of breech strike.

“While we can explain only about 20 to 30 per cent of variability in breech strike between animals, he said.

“If we can understand where this variability comes from, we can develop more effective breeding programs and management strategies against breech strike.”

One area of current focus is the influence of odour on fly strike and the origin of the odour.

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