News & Advice

Barbers pole worm – Why should it be treated differently?

Feb 1, 2018 | Dry stock, Sheep

Barbers pole (Haemonchus Contortus) is different from other worms affecting sheep in a few, important ways, and it is good to review this disease before it becomes a problem. The points we should remember are:

• Sheep affected by Barbers pole do not show signs of scouring so dags and dirty tails are not an indicator of infection.

• Barbers pole worm sucks blood causing anaemia. The loss of blood is the cause of death and large numbers of animals can be lost very suddenly. Stress can increase the effect.

• Each worm can produce 10,000 eggs per day so pasture can become contaminated very quickly.

• Their eggs can survive over drought periods so when the warm wet weather arrives huge numbers can hatch into infective larvae.

• The time from eating the larvae to eggs being produced can be a shorter time than normal- which means they can get a high burden faster than with other worms.

The last point is the reason we recommend using a long-acting drench instead of a short acting one. Most drenches will kill barbers pole but they often return before your normal 28 day drench cycle and can kill in this time. Genesis ultra is the only drench that includes Closantel, which lasts 42 days. It has a 56 day meat withhold however so if drenching lambs plan around this.

Signs of barbers pole worm include pale mucous membranes, lethargy, and increased breathing rate. Often they lag behind the group when moved as they are exercise intolerant.

Give us a call if you are concerned about your animals.

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