Test before you drench

January 11, 2018

Test the worm burden . . . Worm testing by faecal egg counts is a fast and effective way to determine if treatment is required.

Are the words ‘‘drench herd’’ on your calendar at this time of year? If so, it’s time to step back and consider a few issues.

Worm burdens will vary between different classes of livestock, so it’s worth establishing what really needs drenching.

In doing so, you may save yourself time and money and reduce the chance of drench resistance establishing in your herd.

Worm testing by worm faecal egg counts (FEC) is a way to monitor for the presence of worms and thus the requirement for treatment.

It is a useful diagnostic aid in all types of livestock.

FEC is the process of determining the number of eggs in faeces and is a fast, effective and relatively inexpensive test.

The test involves the collection of faeces either directly from the rectum of the animal, or by mustering a number of animals into a clean corner of a paddock for about 10 minutes and then collecting fresh faecal samples from the ground.

Different mobs may have different FECs so it’s worth having a number of mobs tested.

This particularly applies to your weaners and maiden animals, which have a naturally lower worm resistance and will probably need drenching when the rest of your herd may not.

If and when you do drench, be sure to give the correct dose and use an effective drench.

FECs can also provide information about how effective treatment has been, thus providing information about possible drench resistance.

■For more information, visit or contact your local veterinarian or Agriculture Victoria veterinary or animal health officer, or in NSW your Local Land Services.

—Dr Jeff Cave

district veterinary officer

Agriculture Victoria

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