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The Australian Sheep Parasite Survey

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The Australian Sheep Parasite Survey

a step toward better parasite management services

The Australian Sheep Parasite Survey is now open.

Go to the Australian Sheep Parasite Survey

Knowing how you manage sheep worms, liver fluke, flies and lice allows research, advice and information to be tailored at a regional, state and national level, addressing the issues that are currently of greatest importance.

Parasite resistance to chemicals and market pressures on animal husbandry have put pressure on the sheep industry and options for parasite control in sheep. Finding out how sheep producers have adapted to these pressures, whether they have changed their parasite control methods and their perceptions of the success of different control methods, will help improve current advice on parasite control.

How can you help yourself and the sheep industry?

All Australian sheep producers are encouraged to complete an online survey asking about their parasite control practices for 2018. Producers can also comment on what sheep parasites and parasite control topics they need more information and research.

Every effort has been made to keep the questions as brief and easy to answer as possible, it should take about 30 minutes to complete. Any responses to the survey will remain confidential, identifying data is not collected.

Please note: Due to the survey design (including tables) it will be faster to complete this survey on a desktop computer than on a tablet or mobile device.

Access the online survey here, the link can only be used once so don’t click on the link until you are ready to fill in the survey:

Go to the Australian Sheep Parasite Survey

If you would like a paper version to be posted to you please contact:

Dr Alison Colvin (alison.colvin@une.edu.au) or Prof Stephen Walkden-Brown (swalkden@une.edu.au) of the University of New England. Phone (02) 6773 5152.

What did we learn from the previous surveys?

The results of the two previous parasite control surveys (2003 and 2011) showed major changes to producers’ parasite management practices between the survey years and have proved very useful. They contributed to the development of regional worm control programs and drench decision guides, which have been popular tools on the WormBoss website. The results also informed content for the FlyBoss and LiceBoss websites, which now contain valuable tools and information for managing flystrike and lice infestations.

By comparing results from past surveys with the current survey, researchers can further document changes in industry practices that enable them to focus research and develop information for producers in areas where they are most needed.


The average number of treatments for worms increased from 2.1 treatments/year in 2003 to 2.7 treatments/year in 2011. The highest average number of treatments per year was in the New England (5.6 treatments) which is a region in which Barber’s Pole worm dominates. The regions with the lowest number of treatments were WA (1.8 treatments) and Southern SA (1.9 treatments). There was a greater use of combination drenches in 2011 (43%), however there were still a large number of drenches with single actives given (57%).

In 2011, drench resistance testing was conducted by 29% of producers. Of those, 55% had resistance to benzimidazole drenches and levamisole, 28% to abamectin, 21% to moxidectin and 12% had resistance to ivermectin. Forty-eight percent of farmers said they didn’t know their drench resistance status.

There was a low use of genetic selection for resistance to worm infection (13%) in 2011 with treat for worms (87%), paddock spelling (62%), cropping (39%) and cattle/sheep rotations (26%) being the most utilised methods of worm control.


The previous surveys also found that flystrike remained a problem for sheep producers with body strike being the most prevalent form in 2011 (4-5% of ewes and weaners) which was a wetter year than 2003 when only 1-1.5% were reported as affected. Breech strike affected 3% of ewes in both survey years. Routine annual chemical treatments were used to prevent flystrike by 46% of producers with 36% using chemical treatment only when the risk is high. In 2011, producers were more likely to use visual selection (rams 45%, ewes 61%) than ASBVs (rams 10%, ewes 5%) for breeding fly strike resistant sheep. Of those who used visual selection for breeding flystrike resistant ewes, culling sheep with fleece rot (81%), culling sheep with body strike (67%) and selecting for plain bodied sheep (59%) and were the most popular selection criteria, there were large regional differences in visual selection criteria for ewes (see table).

Table 1: Methods used by those using some form of visual selection for ewes in 2011.


23% of producers reported lice infestations in 2011, with 27% reporting rubbing. On average 54% of producers reported no evidence of lice, this varied across regions with New England reporting the least evidence of lice and Southern NSW and Northern Victoria reporting the highest (see table). Lice prevention rated highly with sheep producers but 22% reported no treatment for lice. Backliner treatments were the most frequently used for both short wool and long wool treatments.

Table 2: Proportion of respondents (%) reporting no evidence of lice seen