Around the Camp: worms, forecasts, pasture dieback & a step into the past. Plus diving deep into incorporating technology

  1. Quick picks: worms, forecasts, pasture dieback & a step into the past.
  2. Deep dive – Incorporating tech into your yards
  3. Upcoming events
  4. Podcasts, eBulletins and surveys

Quick picks

Wanted dead or alive. You might be questioning the logic of barber’s pole being wanted alive. Sorry to get a little western but hold your horses and keep your drench gun in the holster. Slowing down development of resistance is crucial to prolonging a drench’s effectiveness on a specific property. One way to do this is refugia – keeping a population of worms unexposed to the drench. A key factor in drench resistance is the proportion of the worm population (not the number of worms) that are resistant. Maintaining enough worms in refugia can slow down resistance development. The refugia could be in the form of undrenched sheep. If this sounds counter-intuitive, learn more here.


Beyond the forecast. In this webinar recording, Northern Australian Climate Program’s John Mclaughlin looks at the 2023/24 summer season, assesses the conditions experienced across the region and analyses the accuracy of the earlier forecasts. He also looks at the months ahead and discusses the forecast and what this could mean for south west Queensland. Please fill out the feedback form here and let us know what you’d like to see in November’s webinar.

Tracked eagles. Wedge-tailed eagles are being tracked to see if they are a threat to lambs. The eagles have been fitted with solar-powered satellite tracking devices which will provide information about their movements and what they eat in South Australia. Click here to read more.

Pasture dieback in sheep-producing regions. Keep your eyes peeled for pasture dieback, which has now spread to sheep-producing regions. It’s important to be able to identify the symptoms of pasture dieback, as they can resemble other grass conditions. The four stages of pasture dieback symptoms are:

  1. Yellowing and/or reddening of individual leaves, starting from the older leaves.
  2. Stunted, unthrifty growth of plants in patches – or in severe cases, across whole paddocks – with obvious yellowing and/or reddening of multiple leaves or the whole plant.
  3. Death of pasture, in patches or widespread throughout the paddock.
  4. Broadleaf plants (legumes or weeds) growing unaffected in areas of dead pasture. Dead pasture plants are grey and can be easily uprooted.

For more information about identifying and managing pasture dieback, click here.



Preparation of low worm-risk paddocks. The recent moisture around has us talking worms again. Earlier we talked about refugia. Now we will talk about another separate and distinct tool in your parasite management toolkit in the form of the preparation of low-risk worm paddocks.

This involves:

  1. allowing time for most of the existing worm eggs and larvae to die
  2. preventing more worms from contaminating the pasture.

The benefit of this is that ewes and lambs may be able to go longer before needing to be drenched compared to if the paddock was not spelled. For this to be successful, a 95% reduction from when a pasture is moderately to heavily contaminated is needed. The time required for this to happen depends on the temperature. The attached graph shows the survival rate of barber’s pole worm larvae at different temperatures. Click here to go to your region’s worm control program.

Help improve mental health and wellbeing services. The University of South Australia, the National Farmers Federation, the National Centre for Farmer Health and Lifeline are researching the delivery of mental health and wellbeing support to farmers. If you’d like to help make mental health and wellbeing services more farmer-friendly, click here to complete the survey.

Sign up for the Queensland Pastures newsletter. The Department of Agriculture and Fisheries has launched an e-newsletter to bring you the latest on grass, legumes and grazing management in Queensland. Sign up here to receive event invitations, research updates, new tools, resources and articles.

Not so recent event:. Throwback to this event from 1941. Apparently, it was so popular that the minister organised another five.


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Deep dive – Incorporating tech into your yards

Integration of technology into yards was one of the recurring topics discussed in Leading Sheep’s recent eID workshops. Participants shared their experiences, highlighting successful implementations and challenges encountered along the way.

Image: Christopher Turnbull provides a practical demonstration of his sheep handler at a Leading Sheep workshop.

Here are some of their tips to ensure your investment in handler, drafter and eID technology is worthwhile (they are not listed in order of importance).

  1. Confirm support for system setup: Ensure the equipment supplier offers support for setting up the system.
  2. Ensure on-site support: Make sure the supplier can provide support at your property if needed.
  3. Seek advice from other producers: Learn what strategies are working well for other producers.
  4. Consider breed-specific needs: Remember that what works effectively for one breed of sheep may not be the best choice for another.
  5. Start with the basics: Start with the basics and gradually expand your eID capabilities. You might only need a wand and a tag to get started.
  6. Structural changes may not be required: The initial step of using eID technology may not require any structural changes to your yard system. The basics can be achieved with a tag and wand.
  7. Plan ahead: Remember that eID implementation, sheep handlers, drafters and weigh boxes are not plug-and-play. Practice makes perfect, and it may take several trial runs to have it running smoothly.
  8. Prioritise yard design: Don’t overlook the importance of yard design. The efficient stock flow to the handler or weigh box is just as crucial as the effectiveness of the new technology. Ideally, the approach to the handler should be slightly downwards if possible. Adding V-shaped races leading to confined spaces and anti-backing races can help.
  9. Try before you buy: If you are considering a purchase, try out the technology or see it in action before making the purchase.

Choosing technology for your sheep operation

Before integrating new technology such as handlers, drafters, weigh boxes and eID, assess your infrastructure. Evaluate existing sheep-handling facilities, yards and sheds for suitability. Consider layout, size, condition, access for sheep and operators, availability of shelter, and proximity of tools, equipment and supplies. This will help you identify necessary modifications or improvements required to effectively integrate new technology.

When selecting technology for your sheep operation, consider your business’s specific needs and requirements. Various eID devices – including handheld readers, panel readers, indicators, and sheep handlers with integrated panel readers and indicators – are available. Although you may not need to modify your yards to use eID devices, adding a wand or using one you already use for your cattle could be sufficient.

Consider operational goals

Each technology has strengths and weaknesses, so it’s important to choose one that aligns with your operational objectives. For individual animal management and data collection, you may only need to add a wand to your current setup. If you’re handling larger numbers and measuring various traits, you may prefer a handler with eID capabilities, such as a panel reader and indicator.

When using eID, focus on collecting data to support decision-making for your sheep enterprise. Record objective and subjective measurements that matter to you and your operation, such as birth type, fleece weight and pregnancy status. Identifying key traits for your business and focusing on one trait – such as wet or dry – might be the most productive way to start.

Portable and adaptable livestock handlers

Portable handlers offer flexibility in their placement. Some handlers, drafters and weigh boxes can be placed on a trailer, while others have wheels attached for towing. These handlers often use lightweight, portable panels that can be easily attached to existing yards. While this option may not provide the same level of rigidity as a fixed system, it offers other advantages. They can be easily transported to different yards, making them suitable for situations where a fixed system is impractical. They can help maintain smaller mob sizes and be transported closer to the sheep for added convenience.

Image: Sheep handler secured to a trailer, which can be loaded with a race and lightweight panels to adapt to various yards.

If you would like to add any suggestions, please contact Sam.

Article written by DAF extension officer Sam Harwood.

Upcoming events

  • 9 May. SQNNSW Innovation Hub Wellbeing Workshop, Stanthorpe. For more details or to register, click here.
  • 10 to 12 May. State Sheep Show, Blackall.
  • 18 May. Isisford Sheep & Wool Show 2024.
  • 24 May. Farmer first aid training, Barcaldine. For more information and to register, click here.
  •  29th May and Wednesday 19th June. Grazing Fundamentals: Edge Workshop, Begonia. For more information and to register, click here
  • 31 May. Soil and Water Expo, Stanthorpe. For more details click here.
  • 3 to 4 June. Business Edge, Longreach. Delivered by Bush Agribusiness. For more information and to register, click here.
  • 6 to 7 June. Business EDGE, Cunnamulla. Delivered by Bush Agribusiness. For more information and to register, click here.

Podcasts, eBulletins and surveys

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