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  • Matt Playford

Dawbuts Summer Newsletter 2018

Welcome Janina our new Research Manager

Dr. Janina McKay-Demeler has joined Dawbuts as Research Manager. Janina (pictured centre with Hilary (L) and Nicole (R)) has previously been a professor at the Universities of Berlin and Hannover, but moved to Australia with her husband last year. Willkommen!

Throughout the world, information technology and optics have been advancing at a rapid rate. The result is new devices that can be applied to our field of veterinary parasitology.


A constant issue to date has been the low sensitivity of worm egg counts. Italian researcher Prof. Giuseppe Cringoli has invented Mini-FLOTAC to solve this problem, bringing us reliable testing with a sensitivity of just 5 eggs per gram.

This is a bonus for testing horses, cattle and sheep with low worm egg counts and promises to allow drench testing at any time of the year.

A better way to drench test?

Simpler, cheaper, animal-friendly.

We conduct a lot of drench tests in the Kamiya laboratory. Farmers who test the efficacy of the drenches used on their property can tell you exactly how well each drench works against each species of worm. For example, on one NSW farm, they know that if barbers pole worm is present, levamisole will kill 78%, moxidectin will kill 90% and the white drench will kill 14% of the worms. They can also calculate how well combination drenches are expected to work.

However, many Australian sheep producers don’t know how well their drenches are working. This means that when they treat sheep with a drench, they are only guessing if the treatment is effective. Sadly, this often results in sick sheep and low productivity. It also wastes money and leads to severely contaminated pastures.

The industry has tried for many years to increase the amount of drench testing in Australia, but farmers often reply that the current testing method is too expensive, too much hassle or because of welfare reasons they don’t want to wait until sheep are heavily infected to do a drench test.

Dawbuts is working on a new method of drench testing to overcome these problems. Supported by a research grant from Australian Wool Innovation, the project is comparing traditional drench test methods with a new protocol, based on egg count chambers called Mini-FLOTAC. These use a similar approach to the old McMaster chambers, but have 10x higher sensitivity, so they pick up much lower worm egg counts. Drench testing can be done on sheep that have only moderate worm egg counts. The proposed new method is simpler and cheaper to boot.

Validation trials are in preparation stage. However, we won’t know the full results until 100 drench tests have been conducted across the country and a four-way analysis completed. We look forward to presenting the results to you soon.


Combining novel optical technologies with cameras and remote digital access, this platform allows worm egg counts to be conducted reliably and repeatably anywhere in the world. Invented in New Zealand, the core of the device is a powerful ‘Micro-I’ that captures the image of a microscope slide in three dimensions and transmits it via the cloud from the farm to the lab. Experienced lab technicians then perform a worm egg count as if they were right there on the farm.

The result is a cheaper and more convenient test for farmers, vets or managers.

Australia is the third country in the world to have the commercial version of the FECPAKG2 system, with New Zealand and the UK already completing thousands of tests apiece.

Dawbuts is on the hunt for equine ascarids… Can you help?

Ascarids are large roundworms (10-15cm) that primarily affect horses less than two years of age due to naïve immunity. Due to their large size, ability to survive on pasture for up to 10 years, and prolific egg laying ability, they are the most significant parasite in young horses.

Large numbers of ascarids lead to clinical signs such as:

  1. Poor growth

  2. Diarrhoea

  3. Potbelly

  4. Poor coat condition.

  5. Colic

Faecal samples should be collected from young animals for worm egg counts. This test detects ascarid eggs produced by mature worms and hence allows horse owners to see if ascarids are an issue on their property. This should be undertaken in conjunction with use of anthelmintics and effluent management.

We are currently on the hunt for ascarids to validate a new diagnostic technology for use in horses. We require faecal samples from studs/ properties that have several foals or horses under the age of two. All information is strictly confidential.

For more information or if you know anyone who may be interested, please contact Dawbuts on (02) 4655 6464 or email

A date for your diary!

This years Camden Show is on Friday 16th – Saturday 17th March at the Camden Showgrounds. Dawbuts is a proud sponsor of the show.

Get in touch

Give the Dawbuts team a call on 02 4655 6464 if you have any questions or need to order worm egg count test kits. You can also order kits via our new website

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