Santa and wormy reindeer | Turning the Worm

Santa and wormy reindeer | Turning the Worm          

To: WormMail mailing list (recip. undisclosed).  Also posted at   [wormmail-20091221]

Best wishes to your and yours for Christmas and the New Year.

Turning the Worm

The new issue of the Turning the Worm newsletter should be up on our website soon

Santa and the Wormy Reindeer

Stephen Love
Veterinarian / State Worm Control Coordinator
Industry and Investment NSW ~ Primary Industries
Armidale District Office

Christmas ’08 was not a great one for Santa Claus. Halfway through delivering presents to the world’s children, he discovered some of his reindeer were quite wormy. Fortunately for Santa, he was wearing his state-of the-art stain and moisture repellent Santa suit, and a full face helmet.

To make matters worse, some of Santa’s reindeer had burdens of the blood-sucking worms – barber’s pole worm and liver fluke. It’s hard enough to visit millions of chimneys in 24 hours or so without some of your reindeer being anaemic, not to mention scouring.

Santa thought he had the parasite angle covered. He knew that even magical reindeer get worms, so he had treated them regularly with ‘the best drench money could buy’, after his little experiment with organic elven dust failed miserably.

With the Christmas ’08 debacle behind him, and the elves about to go on annual leave to Phuket, Santa decided to do some homework on worm management. After a bit of ‘googling’, Santa settled on the WormBoss website and a couple of other sites, including the Industry and Investment NSW (Primary Industries) livestock health web-pages. Despite the lack of information specific to reindeer, especially magical reindeer, Santa worked out that the general principles of worm control for sheep, goats, cattle and alpaca applied to reindeer as well, after making the appropriate adjustments for differences between host species and environments.

Santa discovered that ‘WormTest was his friend’, and set about getting some faecal worm egg counts from the reindeer just to see what the current worm situation was. Santa knew this was important because internal parasites and their effects are all but invisible, with ill effects only becoming obvious when parasitism and associated losses were quite advanced.

The reindeer and (vertically-challenged) elves weren’t too keen on collecting faeces from the rectum, and so were pleased to find that picking up fresh, clean samples from the snow was OK for testing at the North Pole parasitology lab.   The samples, taken just 10 days after the last drench, had very high worm egg counts, suggesting that the drench had not worked properly. With the benefit of experience and local knowledge, the North Pole vet suggested a best-bet alternative drench for Santa to re-treat the reindeer with until further investigations showed what drenches actually worked on ElvenHolm where the reindeer grazed. Fortunately a WormTest 10 days after the reindeer were re-treated showed that the alternative drench had worked well.

Santa also discovered that grazing the reindeer in the same small valley all the time was not a great idea, and resolved to move them regularly from valley to valley where the lichen was good, and no young reindeer had recently been grazing.

Digesting all this new knowledge, Santa pondered the genetics of his reindeer. Santa reasoned that reindeer, like elves and humans, are individuals too, with some being more or less susceptible to diseases than others. Rudolph for example, was notoriously susceptible to catching colds, hence the red nose.

Delving into their pedigrees, Santa noticed that the reindeers’ ancestors either had no Reindeer Breeding Value (RBV) for Worm Egg Count (WEC), a measure of their resistance to worms, or had an unfavourable RBV for this trait. Santa decided that in future he would only get breeding reindeer that had favourable RBVs for WEC as well as temperament, flying and time travel.

Worm management was still going to be a challenge, but Santa was starting to feel a whole lot better about it, having tapped into good sources of information and a good advisor. Sure there were problems to be fixed, but at least he was aware of them now, which meant he was better placed to find solutions.

In the meantime Santa decided to keep up regular WormTesting, as well as working to the flexible strategy and bundle of worm control principles he got from the North Pole vet.

He still had a way to go: there was a lot to learn and he had to make some management changes, but at least he was on the right track.

Christmas ‘09 was shaping up to be a whole lot better than Christmas ‘08.

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Posted via email from skoleks

WormFax NSW-November; Lice Detection Test

TO: WormMail mailing list (recip. undisclosed)    [WormMail 20091216]

WormFax NSW – November issue

The November edition is on-line.

The Laboratory Lice Detection Test – a note from Narelle Sales

                                                                  Contact: Narelle Sales or Paul Young
Ph: (02) 46 406433  Fax: (02) 46 406454.
E-Mail: or
Elizabeth Macarthur Agricultural Institute,
Woodbridge Road, Menangle. NSW 2568.

Dear Stephen,                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        
We wish to advise you that the laboratory will be closed for the processing of lice detection tests from the 24th of December 2009 until the 18th of January 2010. We would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your support in 2009 and wish you and your family a happy and healthy Christmas and 2010. If we can be of further assistance please contact us.
Paul Young, Crystal Austin and Narelle Sales.