Concerns over worm control in sheep after drench capsule ditched

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Sheep producers are concerned about how they’ll control worms in their flocks after the discontinuation of a slow-release drench capsule given to two million animals each year.

Dynamax drench capsules contain the insecticides abamectin and albendazole, which control a range of worms in sheep.

The capsules are inserted down the throat of animals and sit in the stomach, slowly releasing drench over a 100 day period.

The capsules were popular in high rainfall zones — where worm numbers were higher — because of the residual control they provided in comparison to traditional oral drenches.

But manufacturer Boehringer Ingelheim confirmed the discontinuation in a statement to the ABC last month.

Farmers will have to adapt

Western Victorian livestock veterinarian Andrew Whale said farmers would need to be more vigilant when controlling worms without access to the capsules.

“I don’t think it’s disastrous, but I think people will really need to change their ways in how they manage animals without having a long-acting capsule,” Dr Whale said.

“People have been able to administer this product prior to lambing and know that they’ve got 90 days where the sheep cannot succumb to worms, and what that’s allowed people to do is be fairly slack with their worm management for the rest of the year.”

He said drenching more frequently with an oral drench, or an injectable product that gave 49 days of protection, would be important.

“We see lots of people who are running sheep next door to people using capsules and they’re not losing any production out of not having a capsule, but they’re often needing to do an extra drench or perhaps an extra two drenches through those winter months,” he said.

Why the discontinuation?

There had been some speculation the product was being discontinued because of animal welfare concerns, but Dr Whale said he didn’t believe that was the case.

Drench capsules and applicatorDrench capsules and applicator
Drench capsules are inserted down the throat of the animal with the pictured applicator.(ABC Rural: Angus Verley)

“For the capsule to get into the stomach, the animal needs to swallow it, so you pass it into the oesophagus and the animal swallows it, but if you’re forceful with that, you can put a hole in the oesophagus and the animal sadly dies of septicaemia in the next three or four days,” he said.

“It’s operator error when this happens.”

He said he didn’t think the potential for the operator error was the reason behind the discontinuation. 

“My understanding is it’s largely due to sourcing the ingredients and getting the product made in a consistent manner,” Dr Whale said.

Posted 10h ago10 hours agoTue 17 May 2022 at 12:55am, updated 10h ago10 hours agoTue 17 May 2022 at 12:57am