Don’t get in strife with flystrike

The Department of Primary Industries (DPI) is advising sheep producers to prepare for a heightened risk of flystrike this summer.

DPI Senior Animal Health Manager Robert Suter said if the current forecast for a wet humid summer eventuated it would provide ideal conditions for flystrike.

“Flystrike is a significant cause of lost production and welfare concerns in the sheep industry,” Dr Suter said.

“Sheep producers must carefully assess the susceptibility of their sheep, watch weather conditions and check for the presence of flies.

“Susceptible sheep may be those with fleece stain (urine, faeces), be close to shearing, have fleece rot, lumpy wool (or dermatitis), wounds, abscess, grass seed, lice, footrot, poll or wet wool.

“Correctly timing crutching and shearing will reduce their vulnerability, as sheep in short wool are less susceptible to flystrike.

“Reduced losses and suffering can be achieved with timely use of appropriate preventive applications to a flock and spot treatment of affected sheep.

“Producers should monitor flocks more regularly and closely during danger periods and have a plan how spot treatments or emergency mustering will be done.

Producers should be aware of the risk of residues in wool and meat products and take into consideration the relevant withholding periods that may apply.”

Various treatments, applications and remedies are available.

Dr Suter said the proper application and choice of treatment will depend on the length of wool and the future of the sheep. The appropriate use of treatment is essential for maximum efficacy.

“Producers should take into consideration the range of withholding periods that apply when treating sheep for flies,” he said.

“The meat withholding period is often shorter than the Export Slaughter Interval. However, as nearly half of the sheep meat produced in Victoria is exported, the Export Slaughter Interval is the important one to heed.

“For the safety of your staff, observe the Wool Re-handling Interval: do not yard and handle treated sheep until this period has passed.

“The Wool Harvest Interval is the period that should elapse prior to shearing sheep, to ensure the clip will meet Australian standards.”

“Producers should declare all treatments prior to selling sheep or products such as wool by using the National Vendor Declaration, Sheep Health Statement and National Wool Declaration.

“Flytraps may be of benefit in monitoring for presence of Lucilia cuprina, however flocks should still be checked closely every two days during danger periods.”

For further advice please contact your local veterinarian or DPI Veterinary or Animal Health Officer, or in NSW your Rural Lands Protection Board.

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