A warning has been issued to farmers about the dangers right now of both facial eczema and flystrike.
Recent high temperatures and humidity have created textbook conditions for flystrike in parts of the country. However, there are steps farmers can take to make sheep as unattractive to flies as possible.
Will Halliday, Beef + Lamb New Zealand's senior advisor biosecurity and animal welfare, says the best and most effective approach to preventing flystrike is to use a combination of strategies also known as Integrated Pest Management (IPM).
Halliday says IPM aims to keep pressure on the pest throughout its lifecycle by using a combination of chemical and non-chemical tools.
"It's about attacking maggots and flies from different angles, at different times."
For example, weekly monitoring for the four blowfly species that cause flystrike (Australian green blowfly, European green blowfly, Brown blowfly and Hairy Maggot blowfly) using small offal-baited fly-traps will detect when these flies are active which can then trigger a management response.
This could include shearing, crutching, dipping and/or moving sheep to higher ground with cooler temperatures and higher wind speed.
During high-risk periods, Halliday says that intensive grazing shoud be avoided if possible and hot-spots on the farm identified and avoided. These could include sheltered, scrubby gullies, patches of thistles, bush lines and the lee of shelter-belts.
He adds that while chemicals play an important role in the prevention and treatment of flystrike, over-reliance can lead to resistance.
"It is important to only use chemicals known to be effective on individual farms and use different chemicals to treat an active flystrike lesion than those used for flystrike prevention."
Halliday points out that the Managing Flystrike and Lice publication - put together by Beef + Lamb NZ, Merino NZ and Sheep and Beef Cattle Veterinarians - explains the lifecycle of pests, helps decipher chemical product labels and applications.
"It is an excellent resource to help farmers put together a management plan for the prevention and treatment of both flystrike and lice."
See the Managing Flystrike and Lice Guide for Farmers factsheet: https://beeflambnz.com/knowledge-hub/PDF/managing-flystrike.pdf