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  • Matt Playford

Dawbuts Autumn Newsletter 2020

Autumn 2020

Bushfires, floods and COVID-19. 2020 has already proven to be a tough year for all Australians, particularly our livestock producers. Dawbuts is here to help with all your parasitology and animal health needs. But first, some updates…

COVID-19 Response

  1. Dawbuts lab services to continue to operate as normally as possible

  2. Staff remain in good health. Please give them some time when you ring to keep their spirits high!

  3. For all virus-related news, please see Federal and State department websites. Read More

Worm ID Service Launched

Dawbuts, the Camden, NSW-based parasitology laboratory, has announced a new service for all livestock owners. The Worm ID test means that all people who conduct worm egg counts, either through the lab, in-clinic or using the FECPAKG2 machine, can also gain important knowledge about the type of worms in their stock. Available now as a separate test pack, complementing the new Dawbuts Worm Egg Count Test Kits, the Worm ID packs mean that even producers who don’t submit worm egg count samples to the Dawbuts lab can still get the worms in their stock identified.

Matt Playford, Veterinary Consultant from Dawbuts, commented ‘We’ve always maintained that worm identification is an important part of parasite monitoring. In fact, to encourage worm identification, Dawbuts have discounted the cost of larval culture and differentiation. Now in 2020, with many of our clients switching to the FECPAKG2 platform for rapid, accurate worm egg counts, we realised that some clients were missing out on their worm ID”.

The Worm ID test should be used in conjunction with worm egg counts for :

  1. monitoring of worm types in stock, particularly mobs that haven’t been tested before

  2. identification of seasonal threats

  3. assisting with drench selection i.e. if barbers pole worm dominant, can use closantel or organophosphate

  4. confirmation of the worm types surviving a drench.

Dr. Tom Walsh of The Vet Group, Timboon, Victoria sees the Worm ID service as a step forward for managing worm burdens. “We’ve traditionally sent samples away to a lab for the full service of worm egg counts and larval identification”, he said. “But recently we’ve started using FECPAKG2 because it gives us same day worm egg counts. Now we need a separate service to ID the worms and this fits the bill.”

The Worm ID test kit comes in a plastic bag with submission form, a small collecting spoon and instructions.


Simply collect about half a bag (about 40-50g) of dung from the mob of cattle, sheep, alpacas or goats and place in the plastic sample bag, then seal. The sample should include small portions (about 1-2g) from as many animals as possible, preferably over 15 head. Note: samples can be taken from a well-mixed bag for a pooled worm egg count test, but must be taken before water is added. STEP 2: Fill out submission form

Fill out the submission form. Place the sample bag into the inner and outer protective bags and seal again. STEP 3: Send

The sample is now ready to place in the Reply-Paid Express Post bag for return to the Dawbuts laboratory. Dawbuts lab will send you a report 7 days after the sample is received, detailing the type of worms present and their percentage in the culture. Cost of the Worm ID test is $50 (incl. GST) which also includes kit and express postage. Discounts of 10% apply to all registered FECPAKG2 users.

Use The Box! – Why Our Packaging Is So Important

This time last year, in our 2019 Autumn Edition, we looked at how Dawbuts was implementing best practice to minimise the risk of anyone being adversely affected during sample collecting, sending and processing, focussing specifically on how our packaging arrangements can achieve this.

You can find the original article here To provide you with a quick recap:

  1. Parasitology samples rely on testing fresh faecal samples. They are Categorised as ‘Category B’ biological samples, which defines them as having a low risk of being infectious but are potentially dangerous.

  2. Our packaging needs to comply with 3 levels of regulations to send these samples, including the IATA 650, the UN3373 and Australia Post. All our kits come with pre-labelled postage bags that reflect these regulations being followed.

  3. We can only send samples through the post because we are a recognised diagnostic laboratory and comply with these strict packaging requirements.

  4. Clear and compliant labelling

  5. Three layers of sealing between the substance and the outside

  6. Able to withstand the ‘Free Drop Test’ – that’s why we need the box!

  7. Watertight primary receptacles and secondary packaging

At Dawbuts, we are committed to making sure we meet these requirements and have still been able to do so with our new-look kits. We want to make sure that samples are packaged correctly to minimise any risks through handling from farm to lab. Here are a few tips to remember when sending a sample to the lab.

  1. Use the glove in the kit provided to collect samples and dispose of when finished – don’t send it with your sample!

  2. Make sure the tray is sealed properly at all corners and middle sections.

  3. DO NOT put the submission form with the tray in the Ziploc bag (just in case it leaks!)

  4. Use all packaging provided (tray, plastic Ziploc bag, kit box, and postage bag) to ensure regulations are complied with.

  5. If you are interstate, please sign the pink aviation sticker on the front.

New Worm Egg Test – featured in BTB

Do you need a more sensitive test for your Worm Egg Testing? Alongside our traditional McMaster method, Dawbuts is also offering Mini-Flotac services, which can be used anywhere from ASBVs down to mob monitoring. Recently featured in the March 2020 issue of Beyond the Bale, click on the link below to read the full article (Pg.45). Read More

FECPAK For Equine

The FECPAK has been a great success for sheep and cattle producers, with over 50 users (mostly rural stores) obtaining results that have assisted with smart drench decisions. Most people may not realise that this revolutionary platform is great for equine testing as well! With the current situation meaning a lot of horse events would be cancelled, this gives rise to more horses being spelled together on paddocks. With the rain that we’ve had and expecting to come, this means a higher chance of pastures becoming contaminated.

But what does this mean for me? Do I need to regularly drench? Do I even need to drench? How much of a problem is my worm burden? Are all my paddocks contaminated?

All valid questions that can come with one simple answer – worm egg testing! We’re calling all equine clinics and agistment properties to explore the world of FECPAK and see how it can be a great additional service to offer their clients. Horse wormer resistance is an issue that we are likely to see in the near future, accelerated by the routine monthly drenching practiced by horse owners. A great opportunity to offer drench decision support is through the FECPAK, to help save time and money, reduce the rate of resistance whilst maintaining optimal equine health. If you, or anyone you know may be interested in quick, efficient and scientifically validated worm egg testing, give us a call today!

Image sourced from

The Coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the importance of biosecurity. Advances in medicine and availability of vaccines for many of the major infectious diseases of people have meant that many countries were simply unprepared. Vets, farmers and animal health industry insiders however are no strangers to these events, as we have learned the bitter lessons from Equine Influenza in Australia just 12 years ago and battle daily with footrot, lice, resistant worms, theileriosis, ticks and pestivirus in our flocks and herds.

FECPAKG2 users have point-of-care access to parasitology diagnostics. This will be essential if there are restrictions on sending biological samples in the mail, as would happen in an infectious disease outbreak, but make sense even now. Being able to test animals for worms on-farm, in-clinic or in-store provides a diagnostic tool for farmers and animal managers that is convenient, fast and doesn’t involve transport of samples in the post. For more details about FECPAKG2, please see the Dawbuts website or contact us at

African Swine Fever

This disease, which causes vomiting, fever and high mortality rates in pigs, has been spreading across the world for the past 3 years and has now reached our nearest neighbour, Papua New Guinea. According to the PNG Department of Agriculture and Livestock, the virus was confirmed in Mendi, capital of the Province of Southern Highlands. The virus that causes ASF is extremely hardy and survives for months in the environment or even in pig meats. Despite travel curtailments and lifestyle and work challenges due to the COVID-19 emergency, this latest report emphasises that we can’t relax our vigilance against existing emergency and endemic diseases. For more about ASF, please click on the link below:

Thanks to AVA for this update. Read More

Did you know we are ParaBoss Approved?

That’s right – Dawbuts recently participated in the Paraboss QA program which is a program, provided to us and other services to test the accuracy of our work. We are proud to say that not only are we up to scratch, Dawbuts was nominated to be the reference laboratory for the second round of QA testing.

Our Clients can be rest assured that they are receiving the highest quality parasitological services from Dawbuts. If you’d like to read the whole article from Beyond the Bale (March 2020) click on the link below (Pg 44). Read More Key figures revealed in national survey on sheep parasite control- the bad, the good and the ugly.

Professor Steve Walkden-Brown of University of New England is nearing completion of the AWI-funded national sheep parasite survey. We spoke to Prof. Walkden-Brown after publication of the preliminary results of the survey on p40 of the March 2020 edition of ‘Beyond the Bale’. “The results show quite a bit of variation across the different sheep regions of Australia, but this is just an early count. We expect the full detailed report to be released in the 3rd quarter of 2020,” said Prof. Walkden-Brown.

The variation between regions may reflect the small number of respondents in some places, for example Tasmania had lower numbers than other areas. However it may also reflect the availability of laboratories and advisors. The BAD

The preliminary report does confirm some very concerning trends in parasite control. The results indicate that some on-farm practices are getting worse, not better.

  1. Only 16% of respondents stated that they had carried out a drench test in the previous 5 years. This figure is down from 29% in the equivalent survey in 2011.

  2. The majority (55%) of drenches reported to be used on sheep were single-actives, despite the strong recommendation from WormBoss, Australia’s peak authority on sheep worm control, to use combination drenches.

  3. Abamectin, levamisole and moxidectin were the most common drench actives named, the same as the 2011 survey.

  4. Only 39% of producers said they used worm egg counts. Even though this is up from the 2011 figure of 21%, it still falls far short of the recommendation of 100% from WormBoss and state departmental experts and advisors. The GOOD

More sheep producers are using WormBoss to help them with decisions about worm control.

  1. 63% of respondents said they had visited WormBoss (up from 21% in 2011)

  2. 28% said they used the site to make changes (up from 5% in 2011)

  3. FlyBoss (59% visited) and LiceBoss (57%) also had high levels of recognition by sheep producers.

  4. Producers who tested said that they did on average 3.1 tests per year.

  5. Worm egg counts were regarded as highest-ranking for ‘effectiveness’ of all techniques used for worm control.

  6. More producers (33%) are using genetics to select for resistance to flystrike, alongside visual traits (56% for rams, 44% for ewes). The UGLY

  1. 87% of ewe lambs and 91% of wether lambs had pain relief applied at mulesing, backing estimates from the 2017 Merino Practices Survey. This may seem high, but Victoria has already enacted legislation to make pain relief mandatory (from 01 July 2019) and many producers would argue that mandatory or not, it should be used.

  2. Only 33% of respondents isolated introduced sheep for at least two weeks and only 8% applied a quarantine treatment for lice. COMMENTS

The finding that single-active drenches are used in the majority of cases is very disappointing, but is consistent with the fact that most producers (84%) have not conducted a drench test in the previous 5 years. Dawbuts case studies show that conducting drench tests brings about productivity gains because farmers know details of the efficacy of different products against different worms, including which drenches don’t work on their farm. Producers stated they used ‘planned preventive treatment’ most frequently for worm control, but only ranked it 5th in terms of effectiveness. The obvious solution to this is to do worm egg counts to monitor when drenching is needed, as well as after drenching to see how well the particular drench worked. The full transcript of the article is on p40 of ‘Beyond the Bale’, March 2020 edition. For more information on drench resistance and drench testing please visit or call us to discuss.

Spotted! Dawbuts in Rural Business

Dawbuts had an article featured in the March edition of Rural Business. The article, written by Matt Playford, focused on how the events of drought and rain can influence the emergence and survival of worms, with then how best to monitor and treat using data collected from Worm Egg Counts and Larval Cultures. Have a read below!

What else have we been up to?

In this edition of our quarterly newsletter, we’ve decided to put together a mini-photo album to share with you what the Dawbuts team has been up to. From out on field, to the lab and consulting activities, the Dawbuts team have been busier than ever!

Out on field:

Vanene, Sandy, Janina and Adriana on-field collecting data for an AWI project. The mob was checked for anaemia using the FAMACHA method (Jan-Mar 2020)

Check out our new advert

We know WEC testing is important – and we hope our advert in the March 2020 edition of Rural Business showed just that!

Sandy and Phil in their lab coats ready for a busy day ahead!

Adriana, Andew, Phil, and Wendy enjoying morning tea in the sunshine (Mar 2020)

The team having lunch with our vet placement students from the University of Sydney – Emma and Ravina. They were a joy to have at Dawbuts and were a great help both on-field and in the lab. We wish the girls all the best for their future endeavors! (Camden, Jan 2020)

Bruce Officer (Zoetis) with a client in Winchelsea collecting cattle tail hair samples for a genetics project (Feb 2020)

Ben Fletcher (Zoetis) giving a presentation to a keen group of producers at Elders Katanning (9 Mar 2020)

Matt Petersen (Zoetis, right) giving a presentation on worms in dairy cattle. Matt attended and also presented,and featured Ellie the Cow (18 Feb 2020)

Training for NRI employees – Matt performing a post-mortem (left) and capturing smiles in the sheep yards (right). (Kojonup, March 2020)

Matt at dinner with researchers from Scotland, part of the Barber Vax world team (Albany, 8 Mar 2020)

Dawbuts are the club sponsor for the Camden Cycling Club. Matt pictured (white shirt) with some of his team mates (Macquarie Fields Crit Circuit, Feb 2020)

Hey Ewe!

Like what you see here? Keep up with all the lastest! Or get in touch with us to find out more – we’d love to hear from you!

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