There is more to breech flystrike control than mulesing, according to Rick White, technical services director for Elanco Animal Health.
"Integrating all the things we do with stock and pasture management is important," Mr White said when addressing The journey to no breech modification webinar sponsored by the Pooginook Merino stud, Coleambally.
"As well as the genomics and selection tools that are available in the industry, there is a lot of management assistance that goes into helping producers have good fly control without the need for breech modification."
A simple thing like the length of the docked tail to just cover the tip of the ewe's vulva will significantly reduce the risk of fly strike as the shorter tail will not collect dags or urine stain.
"But it must be long enough to cover the vulva to reduce the incidence of skin cancer," Mr White said.
"The correct docking of tails at marking time is important."
He also pointed to 'green feed management', whereby producers can help their sheep absolutely express their genetic potential if attention is paid to issues associated with a flush of pasture.
"When sheep are on green feed, particularly young sheep, they do have an increased tendency to scour," Mr White pointed out.
"And there are things we can do to understand the nutritional balances like supplementing sheep appropriately so that not only do we get better production and faster weight gain, better fertility and longer term production benefits in the flock, but we also get reduced incidence of scours."
Mr White advised correct weaning practices like adapting the young sheep to green feed and appropriate supplements to balance those pastures will reduce scour and dag.
"It is another management tool to reduce fly pressure, and we also need to integrate that feed management with parasite control, " he said.
"Everyone knows that internal parasites cause scours, so along with green feed the big risk is poor parasite control will increase scours and therefore increase dag and fly strike."
Mr White pointed out sheep producers should be aware of the effectiveness on their properties of the different chemical types in sheep drenches.
"Using tools like faecal egg count after drenching to check the efficacy of a drench so we know that drench has worked will help," he said.
"If we identify any lack of efficacy, we can do an on-farm drench resistance test and measure the efficacy of chemical groups so we can integrate the right chemical with the right time of the year for control of the parasites which are causing the problem."
Mr White further noted the process of paddock planning and identifying those high-risk paddocks will assist in reducing reliance on drenches by managing grazing pressure on paddocks to allow the drenches to have maximum efficiency.
"The resistance to chemicals controlling flystrike is developing and in some areas it is a serious issue where we don't have the length of protection from chemical to reduce of prevent fly strike," he said.
"To reduce the reliance on chemicals to prevent fly strike, use it at the appropriate time of the years and make sure the timing of crutching or shearing is best timed to have maximum effect on reducing the reliance on chemicals."
Mr White suggested sheep should be treated early in the season rather than waiting until there is a huge fly wave.
"Because chemical effectiveness is dependant on fly pressure, obviously the higher the fly pressure, the less well you chemicals will work," he said.
"The coming season's fly wave is already sitting in the ground waiting to emerge, but are you making sure your strategies are in place before the fly wave emerges?"
Meanwhile, Mr White advised getting in early to treat your sheep so they have some cover before the first fly wave starts and the use of the 'red raddle' is another useful tool.
"Reduce the number of susceptible sheep by culling but by getting in early with prevention we can actually reduce the amount of chemical required and that helps us reduce build up of resistance," he said.
"We should all be concerned about developing resistance to chemicals for fly strike prevention, so try to use just one chemical treatment per year, combine it with best practice management, and use a chemical with the appropriate length of protection to provide the cover you need."
Have you signed up to The Land's free daily newsletter? Register below to make sure you are up to date with everything that's important to NSW agriculture.