Farm Management

ParaBoss set to expand to cattle

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Beef producers will soon have a valuable new tool to assist them in the fight against parasites, which cost Australian cattle producers in excess of $350 million annually, with the development of one national website for parasite control resources.

This new extension and adoption (E&A) project will see the resources for cattle parasite management centralised and added to the suite of products provided by ParaBoss – the existing ‘go to’ website for sheep and goat parasite management in Australia.

The project will be undertaken in partnership by Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA), the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (QDAF), the University of Queensland’s Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation (QAAFI), and the existing ParaBoss team at the University of New England, commencing in April 2017.

Meat & Livestock Australia’s General Manager – Producer Consultation & Adoption, Michael Crowley, said the project would result in a comprehensive and convenient resource for beef producers to help them develop their integrated pest management (IPM) plans.

“This project will align parasite management resources for beef producers into an existing successful framework used by sheep producers,” Mr Crowley said.

“Treatment, prevention, and production costs vary by region. Cattle tick costs $156 million per annum and buffalo fly costs $94.6 million per annum, and they have the greatest impact on northern cattle.

“Southern herds suffer more from worms, costing producers $82 million per annum.”

Previously, MLA, Sheep CRC, and Australian Wool Innovation developed three websites that serve as national information sources for the management of the major parasites for sheep.

Together, WormBoss, LiceBoss, and FlyBoss are referred to as ParaBoss.

Since January 2014, ParaBoss has been managed by the University of New England and has become a relied upon resource for the sheep industry.

In November 2016, the resource was expanded to include goats.

ParaBoss has an average of 12,500 users each month and 3,300 subscribers to ParaBoss News.

ParaBoss Executive Officer Dr Lewis Kahn said the project would develop TickBoss, WormBoss, FlyBoss, and LiceBoss for cattle with the aim of having the new web interface available to producers by the end of February 2019.

“It will mine the current literature and scientific and advisory knowledge base for up-to-date information on cattle parasite control and deliver it in a practical and producer-oriented format,” Dr Kahn said.

“The ‘what to do’ and ‘when to do it’ approach, supported by information on parasites, control programs, and treatments has been at the core of the ParaBoss success.

“The process of developing the content will engage with animal health and biosecurity advisors throughout the country, which is the strength of the ParaBoss network.”

The project is being led by QDAF’s Dr Jess Morgan and QAAFI’s Dr Peter James.

“Producers are currently forced to hunt for information regarding parasite management from a range of different sources, including Department of Primary Industries’ factsheets, chemical companies, MLA reports, internet links, research papers, producer experts, and vets,” Dr Morgan said.

“ParaBoss for cattle will provide a centralised resource for this information in a consistent and user friendly format.

“Experts from many cattle-parasite disciplines will be sought out to contribute the latest technical information, and review the content of each of the ParaBoss for cattle pages.

“The control of ticks, flies, and worms are a priority for the cattle industry but lice can also pose a problem for producers. These are the four key areas we will be focusing on.”

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