Experts advise to watch your sheep flocks carefully at the moment, with flystrike risk beginning to rise in the coming months and rickets identified in the region.
Flystrike is a serious animal welfare issue as it causes considerable pain and suffering to an animal and is estimated to cost the Australian sheep industry $280 million every year.
Flystrike occurs when the causative fly feeds off damaged skin caused by urine, diarrhea or by the continual wetting of fleece resulting in a condition known as fleece rot.
Like many areas of NSW, the conditions are looking risky for flocks.
Central Tablelands Local Land Services (LLS) District Vet Nigel Gillan advises landowners to treat stock ahead of time and monitor flocks for symptoms.
“If we have regular rainfall through spring and into summer, fly pressure will be high. This means cases of flystrike are much more likely to occur,” Mr Gillan said.
He said symptoms can sometimes be hidden at first if the strike is small.
“However, as the wound progresses, signs like irritation, or wool that is rubbed or discoloured will become more obvious,” he said.
In advanced cases sheep will become systemically unwell – they may be separated from the flock and appear weak.
Mr Gillan recommends two ways to pre-vent flystrike.
The first non-chemical methods are to select the right time to shear and crutch, breed for less wrinkle, and treat for worms to prevent scouring and dag formation.
There are also long active preventative treatments that can be applied to sheep.
“When applying the preventative treatment, don’t always assume it will last as long as the label claims, since chemical resistance can decrease the length of protection. Keep a look out for flystrike even in treated mobs,” Mr Gillan said.
He recommends landowners use the website flyboss.com.au. The flystrike risk simulator uses local weather, shearing and treatment times to assess your risk.
Several cases of rickets have also been diagnosed recently in lambs.
Adult animals will have Vitamin D reserves stored in their system, but young animals do not.
It’s a disease that results in bones which are often thin or soft and therefore susceptible to fractures.
Mr Gillan recommends a feed supplement containing lime, salt and magnesium for lambs grazing cereal crops.
“A cost effective way is to provide a loose lick in the paddock. It provides some of the minerals that may be lacking in feed,” he said.
A lack of vitamin D can also contribute to rickets.
He advises farmers to monitor flocks. If you do see lambs that are down, have it investigated.