Dairy Australia - Dairy information for Australian Dairy Farmers and the industry

Primary content

Read about the major weeds, pests and diseases affecting dairy farms in southern Australia.


A range of pests affect dairy farm systems in southern Australia. Major ones are the black-headed cockchafer, red-headed cockchafer, the African black beetle, the red-legged earth mite and the lucerne flea.

While Dairy Australia does not provide a comprehensive overview of the life cycle, threshold damage levels and control methods of all pests that affect perennial ryegrass pasture, the following factsheet does describe the effects of the pests mentioned above.

More information

Perennial ryegrass management VIII - Management of weeds, pests and diseases (PDF 1MB)

The focus of this factsheet is on the major weeds, pests and diseases that affect dairy farm systems in southern Australia. It is not a comprehensive review of the life cycle, threshold damage levels and control methods of all the pests that can affect perennial ryegrass. It uses the 3030 Project experiences to discuss how to manage these weeds, pests and diseases with the whole farm system in mind. The weeds and pests covered are:


  • Barley grass.
  • Erodium.
  • Capeweed.


  • Black-headed cockchafer
  • Red-headed cockchafer
  • Red-legged earth mite
  • Lucerne flea
  • Army worms (PDF, 391KB)


  • Crown rust

Red-headed cock chafers

Red headed cockchafers are a growing threat to milk production and profitability of Victorian pasture-based dairy farms.

They have expanded into formerly unsuitable areas and are causing up to $200,000 in lost production per year on heavily affected farms (estimated to be around 15-20% of dryland farms). This expansion may be caused by a drying climate in conjunction with the development of high quality pastures.

Currently there are no effective or cost-efficient means of controlling red headed cockchafer populations, but many farmers are trying a wide assortment of unproven treatments, including ploughing up and resowing pastures which can have potential unintended consequences that exacerbate the problem.

Development and application of a red headed cockchafer prediction system could allow early targeted intervention, identification of ‘high risk’ paddocks and reduce economic losses.

The following factsheet describes a project to help farmers identify the scarab beetle that is causing their damage and will provide up to date information about red-headed cockchafer distribution and abundance.

More information

The red headed pasture cock chafer (external site)

African black beetle

African Black Beetle (ABB) is an introduced scarab pest and is emerging as a major pasture pest in Australian dairy regions. ABB favour pasture grass species including ryegrasses, paspalum, kikuyu and phalaris. This factsheet includes information on the lifecycle, identification and the damage that can be caused by ABB. Methods to reduce the population numbers and differences between ABB and other pasture scarab pests are discussed.

More information

African black beetle fact sheet (PDF, 2MB)

Major Initiatives

Focus Farms

Dairy Australia has established a network of Focus Farms to support farmer decision making.


DairyBase is a web-based tool that enables dairy farmers to measure and compare their farm business performance over time.

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