So far it has been an exceptionally warm and wet year.  The grass is flourishing and the livestock on the Island are as well. But this weather can also bring problems.

 The Barber’s Pole Worm

A nasty and lethal gift from Africa, the Barber’s Pole worm is a tiny cotton-thread like worm that is armed with an arrow head to pierce the stomach lining and suck the blood. It is all over the Island. Sheep and goats are seriously affected.


  • The Veterinary Service is seeing a large number of cases and some deaths as a result of the worm
  • Animals die of severe anaemia and heart failure Diarrhoea is NOT a common symptom.  Watch for ‘bottle jaw’, a jelly-like swelling under the jawbone. Best of all, pull down the lower eyelid and check the pinkness. A free colour guide can be provided by the Veterinary Service to help you monitor throughout the year
  • While the warm weather lasts, treat sheep and goats for worms at least every 4 weeks


Army Worm


Another gift from Africa, the caterpillar of this moth is now booming and killing large patches of pasture.

  • Be aware that the dead ‘army worm’ grass is highly poisonous to stock
  • Be sure that sufficient good grass is available, so stock are not forced to graze it, and do not cut it as feed


Grass Staggers


Much of the Island suffers from Magnesium deficiency, and this is at its worst when the grass grows fast and lush.

  • Mainly this deficiency affects cattle
  • Signs are staggering, twitching, and sudden death due to heart failure
  • Be aware that this deficiency can cause these animals to be aggressive and dangerous.  Please do not put yourself at risk
  • Prevention is difficult, but the Veterinary Service has a small stock of magnesium rich salt licks


Fly Strike


We are also experiencing an extremely high incidence of fly strike. This is when blowflies lay their eggs in the damp warm wool of sheep and the hatched maggots invade and consume the tissues of the animal, resulting in death.

  • If flies seem to be present, part the wool and look deep for the maggots. Clip away the wool, remove and treat
  • The freshly laid eggs look like clumps of fine cream coloured sawdust


For Magnesium & Iron licks and worming guides, contact the Veterinary Service at ANRD on 24724.


24 March 2016


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St Helena Government Communications Hub

Telephone: 22470