Barber’s Pole Worm (HaemonchusContortus)

The blood sucking parasite barber’s pole roundworm is quite dangerous for sheep, causing an infection known as haemonchosis which,because of its blood sucking activity, can result in anything from anaemia and lethargy to death. The pest is most commonly found in areas of Australia that are dominated by summer rainfall, such as Queensland and parts of northern NSW. While it’s less problematic in cooler parts of the country that tend to experience heavier winter rainfalls, no state or territory is completely immune from these parasites. If you suspect your sheep might be infected, treat them with the worm resistance fighting combination of Vetmec LV and Vetmec Dual. Of course always consult your animal health advisor or Chemvet’s in house veterinary advisor if drench resistance is suspected on your property

Features and characteristics

Only the female worm bears the pink and white patterning that resembles a barber’s pole and gives the HaemonchusContortus its common name. The male worm is pale pink in colour, and grows to a shorter length (15mm) than the female (20-30mm).

Barbers Pole worms have a very strong ability to develop resistance to the various classes of worm drench so great care has to be taken when devising a sound worm control programme

Life cycle

Female worms can lay up to 10000 eggs a day. They pass the eggs to pasture through their faeces. If the weather conditions are just right, the eggs will hatch and release larvae. Sheep then eat these infective larvae as they graze, and it takes just 3 weeks for the larvae to grow into adult worms to repeat the life cycle process. Therefore dangerous levels of infection can build up in a flock VERY RAPIDLY with affected sheep showing extremely high worm egg counts (WEC)

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