Ginny Dodunski is one of NZ’s best-known vets, especially now, through her role with Wormwise. Whether she likes it or not she’s the face of worms for sheep and beef farms; the parasite spokesperson if you like.
She told REX hosts Hamish McKay and Rebecca Greaves that there are two key messages for sheep farmers when it comes to parasites and worm management.
"The two key messages for sheep farmers in terms of your farm system are a well-fed, well-conditioned, robust ewe flock that doesn't require drenching," she said.
"And then once they are weened, lambs on feed that's as free of worm larvae as possible."
While she acknowledges that that is difficult to provide on every farm, the closer a farmer can get to those two ideals, the far less of a problem worms will become.
"I'm not saying that there are many people who could get away with not drenching their lambs but those two principles are really important for sheep and all species really."
The cleanest feed for lambs, Dodunski clarified, is a 'perfectly grass-free crop of something other than grass' but she recognised that not all farms are going to be able to provide those.
"That's sort of top of the line and then we work our way down through new grass paddocks, hay and silage after mass, they can be a bit variable and also areas where you have grazed an alternative species like cattle or deer for months.
At a grazing rotation level on farms where it's not possible to have designated areas, or that don't lend themselves to cropping, she recommends having younger animals on a long rotation, out in front of other adult animals following on behind is the best alternative.
"The more that you can provide them with those top tier clean feeds like the crops and the new grass and things like that, the easier the system will be to manage with regards to worms."