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Internal parasites

Overview

MLA invests in research and development (R&D) to diagnose and manage internal parasites to improve the health and wellbeing of livestock, whilst maintaining a sustainable industry.

Internal parasites, such as worms, flukes and protozoa, cost the Australian livestock industry approximately $529 million a year in production losses, reduced animal health and decreased carcase yield.

Ongoing R&D investment to address internal parasites provides the opportunity to identify the parasites with the largest effect on the industry, develop effective control methods and reduce chemical resistance.

Core activities

MLA’s internal parasite R&D involves:

  • extending the current ParaBoss online tool framework that helps producers manage parasite infestations
  • investigating new chemicals for worm control to address drench resistance
  • developing new tools and diagnostic methods for identifying internal parasite infestation
  • integrating pest management principles to improve producers’ uptake of available methods and reduce reliance on chemicals
  • selecting and breeding for animals that are genetically resistant to some internal parasites
  • trialling new vaccines, such as Barbervax, to control worm populations in a herd
  • improving on-farm infrastructure to increase biosecurity methods that manage and prevent the spread of liver flukes and other parasites.

Benefits to industry

  • The control and eradication of internal parasites significantly increases the welfare and productivity of livestock by improving and maintaining their overall health. This, in turn, increases growth rates, reproductive success and the overall quality of life of livestock. 
  • Improved animal health also contributes to enhanced carcase quality, meat quality and overall yield and profitability of an enterprise.

Best practice

Parasitic infestations of cattle, sheep and goats that can lead to productivity losses as well as a negative impact on animal health and welfare.

Internal parasites impacting livestock include:

Parasite prevention, management and control is dependant on the judicious use of chemicals combined with grazing management and the exploitation of host factors of resistance and resilience (age, breed, nutritional and physiological status), while taking into account environmental factors.