Making More from Sheep Australian Wool Innovation Limited Meat & Livestock Australia
MODULE 11: Healthy and Contented Sheep


Procedure 11.2
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Know the important diseases that can occur on your farm, be able to recognise symptoms and adopt preventative strategies rather than relying on treatments to suppress disease. Integrate management and chemical treatments to optimise production; minimise residues; reduce animal health costs; and reduce the development of chemical resistance.

Drench resistance is a major problem in all areas where gastrointestinal parasites occur. Whilst it is the inevitable outcome of using worm drenches, strategies can be adopted to slow the development of resistance.

Management changes may reduce the risk of disease. In such cases, the underlying program may be changed, for example, to reduce frequency or eliminate treatment. Alternatively, changing flock structure may increase the risk of parasitic disease, and so require more intensive monitoring. If you are unsure, consult your veterinary practitioner, sheep health consultant, or State Department of Agriculture/ Primary Industries adviser to determine the likely disease status of your property. Local knowledge from other sheep producers can also help.



At a Glance
Know and understand the main sheep diseases in your locality

Use a preventative health program that integrates chemical control and management to prevent disease

pt Sheep with good nutrition manage worm burdens better

Key decisions, critical actions and benchmarks

Important endemic diseases

The major endemic diseases that require preventative programs include: 

Implement a preventative health program

Once the risk of disease is identified, adopt cost-effective preventative programs. For worm control important actions include:

  • Strategic treatment timed to reduce the number of drenches required to minimise disease impact
  • Management systems to minimise the risk of disease in the highest-risk mobs:

    -  Grazing management to provide weaner sheep with low-worm-risk

    -  Rotate sheep and cattle

    -  Use intensive grazing management to control barber's pole worm

    -  Make sure weaners and lambing ewes achieve condition score targets to minimise disease risk, and supplement if  falling below critical limits for both energy and protein

  • Monitor worm egg counts (WEC) as the basis for when to drench
  • Monitor drench resistance on your property to ensure only effective drenches are used (see tool 11.9 for guidelines)
  • Select sheep for increased resistance to worms (low WEC) and lower dagginess, or purchase rams from studs that can demonstrate progress in this trait without compromising wool and meat quality (see procedure 9.2 in Gain from Genetics)
  • Use an integrated parasite management approach.
  • Visit for regional worm recommendations
Trigger points for action

Trigger points are particularly relevant when seasonal conditions are ideal for the development of disease or, alternatively, when drought conditions reduce the necessity for normal strategic treatments. Develop a health monitoring plan that includes trigger points for action, such as a reduction in condition score, WEC above drench threshold, obvious signs of ill health or parasite infestation (e.g. rubbing sheep).

Signposts Signposts


Sheep worms - faecal worm egg counts – visit:

ParaBoss – ParaBoss ( designed as an integrated national program providing best practice advice for managing sheep parasites in different environments in Australia.  It is the umbrella for the three flagship programs:

  • WormBoss
  • FlyBoss and
  • LiceBoss

Assessing the economic cost of endemic disease on the profitability of Australian beef cattle and sheep producers – to download this technical report click here.

Worm control in southern prime lamb production systems. MLA fact sheet. Click here to download.

Animal Health - Go to the Department of Primary Industry’s website in your state and look under Animal Health. 


The Veterinary Handbook for Sheep, Cattle and Goats: Produced by Livecorp, available for iOS and Android. Allows users to search by species, disease or syndrome to instantly access veterinary advice. Can be used offline.