Be ready for restocking

Here are some points to consider when restocking with sheep.

KEY TOOLS:

  • Always ask for a copy of the National Sheep Health Declaration from the vendor.
    The Declaration enables livestock buyers to assess the risk for Ovine Johne’s disease and a range of other biosecurity issues, including footrot, lice and ovine brucellosis. It recognises vaccination history and flock testing results, and features a series of ‘yes/no’ questions to allow buyers to quickly make informed decisions. Download a copy of the National Sheep Health Declaration.
  • Consider quarantine and keep good records. Isolation from other sheep or to a small area can be extremely useful in the event of a disease outbreak. Knowing where the stock have been on your property can also help narrow down the search for weed outbreaks, which could occur months or years later.

THINGS TO WATCH FOR:

  • Ovine Johne’s disease (OJD). Queensland has historically been considered OJD free and you do not want to introduce the disease to your property. OJD is incurable and animals showing clinical signs, usually wasting and sometimes diarrhoea, inevitably die. Key points to consider are:
    • Insist on a National Sheep Health Declaration from the vendor.
    • Know the signs (wasting in older sheep and sometimes diarrhoea) and look out for mobs with a distinct ‘tail’.
    • Know the high risk OJD areas and the original origin of your sheep. Click here for more information.
  • Worm Drench Resistance. The sheep you buy will be carrying worms. You do not want to buy in drench resistance with the sheep.
    • Good quarantine and effective drenching is critical. A quarantine drench includes a combination of at least four unrelated actives with at least one of these being the newest drench actives (monepantel or derquantel).
    • Hold sheep in the yards or in a secure, quarantine paddock for 48 to 72 hours after drenching, longer when feed is dry, to make sure all introduced worm eggs have passed through the gastrointestinal tract. This is especially important if your paddocks have a low worm burden (e.g. if they have been destocked for some time). If feasible keep this quarantine paddock free of sheep and goats for 3 (summer) to 6 months.
    • Use the Health Declaration to identify previous worm control practices.
    • If you don’t intend to drench, try to graze the sheep on your most heavily infested paddock/s to dilute the incoming worm population.
    • For more information visit WormBoss
  • Sheep Lice. Up to 30% of purchased sheep will be carrying lice and sheep lice are most difficult to find when the sheep are up to two months off shears.
    • At a minimum, good quarantine is essential to limit the spread of any problem. Treatment can then be considered at shearing.
    • Consider treating immediately, plus or minus shearing, but beware of chemical residues.
    • Look for risk factors on the vendor’s property, such as regular trading, poor fences and inability to get a clean muster or split shearings.
    • Visit LiceBoss for more information
  • Purchasing pregnant ewes. It’s best not to truck heavily pregnant ewes as they are susceptible to pregnancy toxaemia.
    • If unavoidable, load ewes lightly and offer food and water immediately on arrival.
    • Remember the maximum time off water (24–48 hr) and spelling periods (12–36 hr) vary between classes of animals
    • If in doubt leave it out! Download the Fit to Load Guide from mla.com.au
  • Footrot. Footrot can cause significant economic loss from reduced wool growth and quality, poor ewe fertility, poor growth rates, losses from blowfly strike, and reduced value of sale sheep. Control of the disease can also be very expensive. The Health Declaration contains important information to allow you to make an informed decision on footrot.

REMEMBER:

  • Keep an eye out for possible contamination of wool and skin with noxious weeds or grasses. This is often a property specific problem.
  • If you have decided to go down the non-mulesed route make sure any sheep you purchase are in fact non-mulesed. It is too late when they land at your property.
  • When transporting sheep, try to ensure the shortest and cheapest route is chosen. If the sheep are woolly it is important to ensure the truck is cleaned beforehand. Remember the potential, even small, of lice being spread by contaminated wool in the truck.
  • Sheep are potential carriers of cattle ticks. Inspection of sheep for ticks needs to occur before transporting from cattle tick infested zones to cattle tick free zones.
  • NLIS. Keep a record of the property of origin of livestock and notify the NLIS  database of relevant movements.
  • Do your research. Seek out local knowledge as to the sheep and the vendor’s property. If the sheep delivered differ from the description given, let your agent know ASAP. Question the vendor as to the origin of the sheep. Do not assume they are vendor bred or of the same bloodline.
  • Poisonous weeds. If stock have travelled long distances and have been off feed for an extended period, don’t put them into a yard or holding paddock with large amounts of potentially poisonous weeds e.g. pigweed or button grass. It’s best to provide hay or a paddock with suitable dry grass initially.
  • If you’re claiming the Drought Relief Assistance Scheme freight subsidy for restocking or returning stock from agistment, take the time to check the requirements and your eligibility first, or free call 13 25 23.
  • Can you afford it? Be careful if you are buying stock on a high market. If you can’t afford to restock through buying stock, then there are always other options to consider (agistment, lease, trading or breeding). Take the time to do your own calculations, and if unsure, seek help from a trusted advisor.

The above list may not be comprehensive and cover every aspect so please ensure you do your own research as each individual circumstance may be different. This document is for Queensland producers, if you have an important local issue please get in contact with your Regional Coordinator. Contact details for your Regional Coordinator can be found under the About Us and Regions section on the website.

Sheep Restocking Fact Sheet

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