Sheep losses from Barber’s pole worm are being seen in the Wimmera with the warm weather following the rainfall a few weeks ago.
Agriculture Victoria Senior Veterinary Officer Paul Beltz said this blood sucking stomach parasite thrives in warm, moist conditions where it can build up to lethal numbers very quickly.
“Barber’s Pole worm (Haemonchus contortus) is present on farms across Victoria but rarely causes disease as our climate doesn’t normally favour it reproducing,” Dr Beltz said.
“Female Haemonchus worms lay huge numbers of eggs, so a rapid population explosion is likely over weeks when weather conditions favour it, such as what we are experiencing now.
“Sheep producers, already checking their stock for flies, should be on the look-out for a tail of unthrifty sheep suddenly appearing in the mob.
“Affected sheep will be weak, not thriving and have very pale eyelids and gums. This worm does not cause scouring; rather, affected sheep will have firm pellets. In some instances, the first sign may be sheep dying.”
Dr Beltz said there are a number of test that can easily diagnose Barber’s Pole, such as a faecal egg count (FEC) or sheep necropsy.
“Fortunately, in Victoria most drenches should control the disease as drench resistance is not apparent with this worm here,” Dr Beltz said.