It’s fair to say that the recent drought has dried out a lot of our pastures. While we are all hoping for some well needed rain, it is important to consider some of the knock on effects and diseases we may see. Jess Clayton tells us more…

Grass Staggers
Keep an eye out for grass staggers once the grass starts growing…

Grass staggers (Hypomagnesaemia)

  • Caused by low blood magnesium levels
  • Young flushes of grass have very low levels of magnesium and rapid gut transit so the mag intake of the animals is reduced.
  • Pastures which have had high potassium fert spread earlier in the year also set a higher challenge for mag intake.
  • Symptoms include exaggerated and uncoordinated muscular movement. Both lead to the animal staggering around, convulsions and if not treated quickly – death.
  • To control – provide feed supplements, lick, blocks or boluses.
  • Staggers is an emergency case so treatment must be sought as soon as a case is suspected.
Barbers Pole Worm
The warm weather will be creating challenging environment for most parasites on the ground, but one critter which affects sheep is facing less of a problem…

Barbers Pole Worm (Haemonchus contortus)

  • One of the more hardy gut parasites and so can survive in the warm dry weather.
  • Any age of animal can be affected, and no immunity is developed after exposure.
  • Only a small number of worms are required to cause disease.
  • Symptoms – anaemia (pale membranes), bottle jaw, weight loss, poor condition and a general drop in performance.
  • Unlike other gut worms, it does not cause scour and it is a blood feeding parasite. Constipation is more likely.
  • Resistance to anthelmintics have been reported so monitoring response to treatment is essential.