How to keep weaners worm free in winter

10 June 2015

Worms love weaner sheep - especially when weaners go through their first winter. But there are steps producers can take to reduce the risk.

Here, based on advice from the MLA-supported website, is what you can do on farm to minimise worm infestation in your weaners this winter.

The key to grazing management for parasite control is to reduce the exposure of sheep to worms.

This is achieved by:

  • avoiding paddocks heavily contaminated with worm larvae
  • reducing contamination of paddocks with worms
  • allowing time for most of the eggs and larvae on the pasture to die before grazing

Ideally, preparing a paddock for weaners to graze during winter starts the year before with the identification of paddocks suitable for grazing by weaners going into their first winter. The better the start for the weaners, the greater the chance for them to build immunity without suffering initial high worm burden. Worm egg contamination arises from two key periods - late summer and autumn and the previous late spring and early summer.

The paddocks for winter weaner grazing should have:

  • the highest quality pasture
  • be the lowest worm risk on the farm

How to prepare a winter weaning paddock

  • The paddock should only previously have been grazed by sheep which received an effective summer drench, or adult cattle (over 12 months old). To minimise contamination with worm eggs graze only for 30 days after each drench is administered. A similar stocking rate to continuous stocking can be achieved by stocking at 2.5-3 times your normal stocking rate.
  • If there is excess feed, stagger the summer drenches for different mobs to provide a longer intensive grazing period. Removing excess feed enhances the kill of worm larvae with summer heat.
  • Give the weaners an effective drench before they enter the paddock after the autumn break.
  • Follow the Smart grazing method for paddock preparation as established by the McKinnon Project research.

Visit WormBoss to know more

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