It has been hot and dry over most of NSW. Colin Peake from Hay in the southwest summed it up; ‘no rain of any significance August last year, very hot and dry - drought like conditions.’ Further east, on the tablelands, storms have temporarily alleviated feed and water worries in some areas but others report that paddock feed is exhausted and farm dams are low. While crops failed to the north, they yielded well in the centre and south of NSW and the stubbles are providing valuable feed. DVs have commented that most enquiries concern feed and water.
For a change, Colin Peake mentioned, ‘besides very little poor quality feed I have seen the odd lambs with a Pasteurella/Mannheimia pneumonia.’ Colin speculated that this may be due to the interchangeable weather, with periods of heat followed by cold nights and lambs in poor condition.
As a wheat grower for a couple of decades I noted that both failed crops and stubbles in dry years are quite palatable and I presume nutritious. Jill Kelly, based at Coonamble has made the same observation. ‘Many sheep have done better than expected on stubble this year after the crops essentially failed and were barely worth stripping. Stubble across the district has now almost run out and many farmers are starting to feed grain and wondering whether to sell breeders or join with little rain forecast in coming months.’ Jill commented that water is also a problem in the northwest. ‘Water is also a big issue with stock bogging in dams. Some farmers are carting water to stock.’
Jill also commented that brucellosis testing in the northwest is continuing and she is finding that the disease remains disease prevalent. On the subject of ovine brucellosis, I was called to a case in which 10 of 29 rams had marked apparently chronic epididymitis and yet the all seropositive rams had inconclusive titres (7 were 8 and 1 was 16). On retest a month later all the inconclusive cases had positive titres (32 - 64), confirming the diagnosis.
As participants on the Australian sheep Vets e-mail list will recall, Warren based private practitioner Tim Gole discussed a case of chlamydial polyarthritis affecting 5-7% of a mob of crossbred lambs. As is often observed, this case occurred in rapidly growing lambs. These were on irrigated lucerne. Tim told me that the owner treated the tail of the mob with oxytetracycline and that the treated lambs responded rapidly.