Flystrike outbreak on the cards

13 December 2022

Tasmanian sheep farmers haven’t had major outbreaks of fly strike this season but are being reminded to take preventative measures to protect their mob.

Flystrike arises when seasonal conditions deliver heavy rainfall and warm temperatures, most commonly in the wet summer months. Fly strike occurs when flies feed off skin which has been damaged by urine, diarrhoea or continuous wetting of the fleece, a condition known as fleece rot.

Fly strike can lead to extreme discomfort and health problems for affected sheep, and financial loss for farmers.

TFGA member Anthony Gun said he hadn’t seen any signs of flystrike yet as he undertakes a lot of preventative measures to stay on top of any outbreaks.

“We have treated all our at lambs and done all our Merino ewes and rams. Our crossbred ewes haven’t been done yet, but if we see any fly we’ll get onto them straight away” he said.
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In terms of preventative measures, Mr Gunn said he made sure early in the year that they had organised their supply of treatment.

Despite the extra rainfall in recent months, Mr Gunn said ‘I don’t think it will make much difference because we’re right on top of it”

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Farmers are advised to monitor their flocks closely for signs of fly strike and to treat any affected sheep as soon as possible.

“If you’re worried at all, get active and don’t wait for it to happen,” he said.

Elders State Rural Products Manager Adrian Rattray said there had been more outbreaks than people might think.

“It's been so cold that we wouldn't expect to see much, but there has been some. Given how wet it is, as soon as the sun comes out, it's going to be a significant problem.

Famers certainly need to be getting prepared for it and shouldn’t be complacent, even if they haven't seen it,” he said.

Farmers in Tasmania are turning to several different methods including crutching and jetting.

To ensure the best outcomes, Mr Rattray said it was better to use a longer-life treatment and start early.

He said, “If farmers treat their stock with the product early, it’s going to last for 11 to 12 weeks; you can certainly count on 10; it’s the best preventative option.

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Don't be complacent and think that there's not going to be a fly strike, because with so much moisture and we haven't had a lot of warmth, as soon as it happens, flies will be a thing”.

Recent supply chain disruptions have led to shortages of key goods in many sectors; regarding the availability of fly strike treatments, Mr Rattray said there were now plenty of options and supply wasn’t an issue.

“Cyromazine? is a bit tight, (the old Vetrazin), but there are other products, such as blowfly and lice by Ivermectin which is readily available, and the long-acting products are also readily available.”

If farmers are after extra advice, they are encouraged to talk to their local animal health advisor or chat with their supplier’s sales team, who can tell them what’s available and what’s not, as well as discuss options to suit their program.

Mr Rattray said “There’s plenty of good information on our supplier websites. Elanco, Avenge’s, and Cooper’s websites are really good for the blowfly and lice products information.”

Nutrein Ag Solutions State manager for merchandise and fertiliser, Duncan Bull, said they have yet to see signs of fly strike but expect it to be a bigger issue as the weather warms up.

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"We've not seen a lot of fly strike so far, but we're planning for there to be quite a bit of it this season. We have sold a lot of long-acting product which gives protection for 6-8 months," said Mr Bull.

In terms of product supply, Mr Bull said that Nutrien has seen a lot of products go out, but still expects a lot of demand over the next month or two.

Mr Bull said, "Although there may be some slowdown in the supply of Vetrazin and Proguard, Nutrien has done an excellent job of ensuring that we have a secure supply of our own. We have plenty of stock to go around and are confident that we have this season covered."

When asked for his top tip for farms Mr Bull said, “We would say use longer-lasting protection for peace of mind. It really is just as cost-effective rather than having to go out and check your sheep for flystrike all the time.

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