It’s being hailed as the biggest breakthrough in internal parasite control since the 1960s and could be available to livestock producers next year.
International Animal Health Products (IAHP), based near Blacktown in western Sydney, is on the verge of releasing a product for the biological control of parasitic nematodes (roundworms) in grazing animals.
The company is awaiting final registration approval from the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) but director, Chris Lawlor, said all the boxes had now been ticked in a long and expensive approval process.
The product is based on a strain of Duddingtonia flagrans, a fungus that occurs naturally in the environment and is found all over the world.
The CSIRO identified strains of Duddingtonia flagrans as having potential for biological parasite control in the early 1990s.
IAHP collaborated with the CSIRO in 1997 and took charge of the commercialisation of the project in 2004.
Twenty years later and IAHP is now geared up to manufacture and market the Duddingtonia flagrans (Df) product in Australia, NZ, the US and, eventually, Europe.
The company now holds provisional patents and trademarks and will announce the name of the product when final approval is received from the APVMA.
The Duddingtonia flagrans (Df) spores are fed to grazing animals in feed supplements and have no effect on internal parasites within the animal.
They pass onto pastures in the manure where they trap and eat the larvae of the major parasitic worms in sheep, cattle, goats and horses.
Mr Lawlor said the fungus was particularly effective against barber’s pole worm (Haemonchus), commercially the most important roundworm globally, along with brown stomach worm (Teladosagia), black scour worm (Trichlostrongulus) intestinal worm (Cooperia spp) and thread necked worm (Nematodirus).
He said some farmers may initially baulk at having to feed Duddingtonia flagrans in daily supplements but once they saw a marked reduction in worm burdens along with reduced frequency of chemical worming he was confident they would be hooked.
Df will be available in two forms – one to feed mills and veterinarians in a concentrated form and the other as an over-the-counter product, via produce stores.
Mr Lawlor said the biological wormer would be a game changer in the battle to overcome increasing resistance to chemical drenches.
It was the biggest breakthrough in parasite control since the introduction of anthelmintics in the 1960s.
Mr Lawlor said before using the Df product the animals should be treated with an effective chemical drench and moved onto pastures which hadn’t been grazed by the same animal species for a minimum of six weeks.
They would then be fed daily rations containing Df to cut the number of infective worm larvae which would help slow chemical resistance and over time may reduce the number of chemical drenches and the frequency of drenching.