The Hidden Battle: Veterinary challenges and the intricate art of managing livestock parasites
Rural News
Rural News

The Hidden Battle: Veterinary challenges and the intricate art of managing livestock parasites

As New Zealand gears up for another season in the agricultural calendar, the weight of industry pressures is increasingly apparent. 

Wormwise Programme Manager Ginny Dodunski is also a trained veterinarian who recently spent a short stint back on the tools in Central Otago covering for a friend. She told REX host Dominic George, that time just reminded her of the day-to-day struggles that rural vets in particular face.

Specifically, she highlighted the breadth of knowledge needed to run a mixed practice and be able to treat and manage such a wide variety of animals, big and small.

"We need vets who can turn their hand to everything from a difficult calving to a dog with a twisted stomach, to then turning around and having a good conversation with a sheep farm or about their sustainable work management," she said.

That's such a broad range of skills. It's probably not practical for people to have that massive range of skills at the level of depth that customers now expect."

Moreover, the world is grappling with a vet shortage, which is particularly felt in small rural practices. In some areas, local vet clinics can no longer provide emergency care, and Dodonski predicts that in time, people may need to travel further for such services. However, she remains hopeful that new solutions will emerge to meet these challenges.

As Wormwise Programme Manager, Dodonski brings her unique perspective on the intriguing field of managing livestock parasites. She shared her insight on the importance of pre-weaning drenches and regular fecal checks for drench efficacy.

"Starting off the season with a drench you know is not working particularly well is going to set you up for problems later on," Dodonski warned. 

"The more worm-free feed that you can provide your lambs, the better they're going to grow, the fewer drench inputs they're going to need, and that just makes the whole thing more sustainable long-term."

She also highlighted how weather conditions can dramatically affect animal health, with a wet summer potentially setting up a lot of parasites on farms. 

But it's not all doom and gloom; Dodonski and her team at Wormwise are building a comprehensive seasonal resource for farmers to address these concerns.

This resource, expected to launch by the end of the year, aims to answer key questions quickly without overwhelming users, while also providing more detailed information for those who need it. The plan is to create a seasonal calendar that dives into relevant areas based on the time of the season.

Listen to the full chat between Wormwise Programme Manager Ginny Dodunski and Dominic George above.

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