Sheep producers urged to be on front foot this spring

Victorian sheep producers are being urged to have a plan for how they will manage flystrike and seed contamination issues in their flocks this spring.

Agriculture Victoria sheep specialist Lyndon Kubeil said recent warm and wet weather was conducive to flystrike and seed contamination issues in sheep.

He said while timely shearing and crutching is commonly used to manage these, expected delays in securing shearers this year would require producers to have a solid ‘Plan B’.

Flystrike is a condition that costs the Australian sheep industry approximately $173 million annually, as a result of lost production, treatment costs and deaths.

Mr Kubeil encouraged sheep producers to consider other management strategies such as chemical options but warned that withholding periods that apply to those chemicals would need to be taken into consideration.

“Some sheep producers may have alternative crutching options such as the use of handlers or crutching trailers,” he said.

Alternate grazing strategies to manage potential grass seed risks was also an option for producers unable to secure shearing contractors at the optimal time.

“Farmers forward plan under normal circumstances, but it really has become a lot more critical this year, especially in terms of managing shearing and ensuring your farm business is COVIDSafe,” Mr Kubeil said.

Agriculture Victoria’s BestWool/BestLamb network and livestock extension and animal health team continue to support the state’s sheep graziers to be proactive, flexible and highly organised to ensure this year’s wool clip goes ahead, factoring in seasonal animal health issues and the ongoing impacts of the pandemic.

“It is important for farmers to understand COVID-19 requirements and their obligations as employers,” Mr Kubeil said.

As authorised workers, farmers and shearers can continue to work during lockdown restrictions. However, a permit is required and agricultural workers must be able to show evidence of their vaccination to their employer in order to continue working outside their home.

Authorised workers need to have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by Friday 15 October, or have a booking to receive their first dose by Friday 22 October, in order to continue working on-site. They will need to be fully vaccinated by Friday 26 November.

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