Lamb Production

Parasite R&D forms basis for fly, worm and lice management

Sheep Central, December 16, 2014

Ewes and lambs 2The combined effects of worms, flystrike and lice infestations are estimated to cost Australia’s sheep industry almost $770 million a year in treatment costs and lost production.

According to MLA’s Animal Health Project Manager Dr Johann Schröder, MLA’s significant investment in research and development projects targeting these parasites is a direct reflection of their importance to producers.

“The findings from many MLA-supported projects have formed the basis of best practice parasite management strategies,” Johann said.

“Through our investment in ParaBoss (which unites the WormBoss, FlyBoss and LiceBoss programs), MLA is also helping to spread the word on how to apply these best practice management strategies to individual enterprises.”

ParaBoss executive officer Dr Lewis Kahn has summarised the key messages from each program below:


1. Plan an annual program based on drenches at critical times of the year, or worm egg counts at those times to check the need for treatment.

2. Test the flock for worms at specific times to decide whether drenching is required.

3. Use grazing management to reduce the level of worm contamination on pastures at critical times and for the most susceptible sheep.

4. Breed for worm resistance to enable the sheep’s immune system to naturally decrease worm burdens.

5. Use drenches correctly and choose only effective drenches (or drench combinations) based on a drench resistance test or drench check. Use the Drench Decision Guide available at

These strategies differ in their timing or emphases depending on climate, so programs have been tailored to eight different regions.


1. Use the FlyBoss website and strategic planning tools to plan the optimal time of shearing, crutching and (if required) chemical treatment to reduce the risk of flystrike.

2. Reduce wrinkle, dag and fleece rot in the flock: the key risk factors for breech and body strike.

3. Select rams and ewes with reduced flystrike risk, but with good productivity for the income earning traits.

4. Dock tails to the tip of the vulva and follow WormBoss worm control strategies, which will reduce dag.

5. Use chemical applications according to the label and pay attention to the risk of developing chemical resistance in blowfly populations.



Lice remain one of the top health issues for sheep producers, despite treatments having been available for many years that can successfully eradicate lice.

Even after lice have gone from a property there is the ever-present threat of a new incursion. As such, effective lice control consists of three elements:

  • preventing new infestations
  • structured monitoring of sheep for lice
  • strategic use of chemicals to treat infestations.

LiceBoss provides the information and tools to help implement each of the three control elements as required. The tools are interactive and simple to use, allowing producers to input their own information and select options relevant to their situation.


Source: MLA


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