AWI protecting the national flock against flystrike

flystrike-8Australia’s wool industry research, development and marketing body, Australian Wool Innovation (AWI) has delivered the latest update on its number one R&D investment priority: protecting the nation’s sheep flock from flystrike.

From a wide spectrum of research projects and trials conducted on farms and in laboratories, significant and incremental progress is being reported. All presentations from today’s update will be available from July 22 on www.wool.com/flystrikeRnDupdate

Since 2005, more than $30 million has been invested by AWI on measures to combat flystrike as part of a greater long-term investment of more than $60 million in animal welfare measures.

Projects have now been funded across a suite of chemical, mechanical, genetic and novel approaches to flystrike prevention.

Breech wrinkle, dag, urine stain and breech wool cover have been found to be the key risk factors for flystrike. Industry for some years has had access to commercially available breeding values for these significant traits. Breeding Values were released and are managed by Sheep Genetics.

However the role of skin bacteria and odour continues to be investigated also. Research and development continues with research partners CSIRO, Department of Agriculture and Food WA and the University of WA to discover the yet undefined risk factors associated with these areas.

Various on farm trials using liquid nitrogen have been shown to reduce breech wrinkle, dags and breech wool cover but further work is being conducted by Steinfort AgVet Pty Ltd to improve the equipment, consistency, throughput and commercialisation of the process.

The genome of the blowfly has now been mapped which offers the opportunity for a greater understanding of what attracts the gravid Lucilia cuprina female to sheep. Knowing the genes that allow the larvae to feed on the skin and underlying tissues, or the gravid female fly to find susceptible sheep on which to lay their eggs could also produce more targeted control measures in the longer term. These could potentially include vaccines to prevent the larvae feeding on the skin and underlying tissue or new control chemicals that kill the larvae or repel the female fly.

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