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New option for monitoring drench resistance and movement of Barber’s Pole Worm

Did you know that a new test has been developed to monitor drench resistance of Barber's Pole Worm?

Project start date: 12 December 2016
Project end date: 02 April 2019
Publication date: 18 April 2019
Project status: Completed
Livestock species: Sheep
Relevant regions: National
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​The development of resistance to most chemical drenches in Barber's Pole Worm populations limits the control options for this important intestinal parasite of sheep, which can cause sheep death without warning.

A DNA test has been developed to pinpoint the level of resistance and accumulate data to monitor the geographic spread of the species.

This test will help producers know what level of control options need to be applied to effectively control Barber's Pole Worm, and improve current parasite management practices within livestock enterprises.


Reducing the economic impact of endemic diseases of sheep is important to ensuring a healthy and sustainable industry. This project aimed to develop a DNA testing tool using large collections of DNA markers to assess changes within, and differences between, populations of Barber's Pole Worm.

Key findings

The DNA testing tool developed for Barber's Pole Worm has the ability to detect the difference between worm populations and define when two populations have been mixed together, which gives producers the ability to monitor the spread of the worm to monitor potentially susceptible animals.

The DNA testing tool can be used to detect the increase in resistance over time, and is likely to be less expensive than a faecal egg count reduction test, with a substantial decrease in labour needed on farm.

This tool can be further developed to incorporate additional worm species of sheep and cattle, with very little increase in the retail price of the diagnostic test.

Benefits to industry

The tool provides valuable feedback to producers regarding the effectiveness of on-farm quarantine measures, the effectiveness of drenches, the mix of parasite species present on their property and the subsequent threat to sheep production.

This can improve livestock health, lower input costs and labour, and can be used to guide strategic decisions regarding parasite management.

MLA action

MLA's Annual Investment Call continues to address research activities that lead to a better understanding of issues and the development of tools or practices to improve productivity of meat sheep or beef cattle, including the development and commercialisation of DNA tests.

Future research

If further research is prioritised in the future, the next steps would likely entail a further field evaluation and supply chain testing project over three years and in collaboration with at least 100 producers before the Barber's Pole Worm DNA testing tool can be commercialised.

More information

Contact email:
Primary researcher: CSIRO