For most areas of the UK, feedback suggests that last year was one with low to moderate roundworm burdens. Where this was identified using good diagnostics, economies from using fewer wormer treatments were possible with manageable risk rather than a fingers crossed approach.
Low parasite burdens offer genuine savings
Looking ahead at the 2017 grazing season, price pressure on finished lamb and beef, or indeed milk, means scrutiny on costs of production. It is important however to understand that cutting cost may actually have an impact on production, exacerbated if the parasite challenge is high.
For example, fewer worm treatments because of known low parasite burdens on pasture can offer genuine savings. But it would be false economy in the face of moderate to high infection pressure due to the impact of roundworms on growth rates.
This applies equally to sheep and cattle. Clearly, a balance must be struck between avoiding unnecessary use and cost of wormers on the one hand, and pursuing a growth rate dividend when worming is justified on the other.
Extending the reach to protect you more
In 2016, Zoetis established a network of ‘Parasite Watch’ sentinel farms across the UK to support your parasite control decisions. Over the coming months, we’ll be providing you with up-to-date data specific to your area so you can make accurate assessments on the parasite challenge you face.
We’ve extended the remit this year through the inclusion of more farms and an upgrade in our technology to provide you with insight into stomach worms, Nematodirus, Fluke and fly burdens in your area.
Gastro-intestinal worms – regular Faecal Egg Counts (FECs) and growth rate monitoring to check for the onset of parastitic gastro-enteritis.
Nematodirus – regular FECs, weather data and other sources to give an indication of disease risk on sentinel farms.
Liver Fluke – using risk and weather data, coupled with regular sampling on Parasite Watch farms, to provide early notice of predictable threats.
Flies – data from Parasite Watch Farms to prompt early warnings, possibly before it is noticeable around livestock, that fly populations, are multiplying quickly.
Our new website
The overall aim of Parasite Watch is to provide widespread evidence-based decisions to treat or indeed not treat. It will inform vets, SQPs and farmers if they are able to reduce treatments or whether the impact on production, given the parasite challenge, is likely to be too high a risk.
We have created and interactive website at www.parasitewatch.co.uk that allows you to get to know our Parasite Watch farms and the challenges they’re currently facing, check back regularly and follow us on Twitter @sheep_farmers and Facebook @SheepfarmersUK for updates and commentary on the findings.
For further information, please see the product SPC, or contact your veterinary surgeon, SQP or Zoetis UK Ltd, Walton Oaks, Dorking Road, Walton on the Hill, Tadworth, Surrey, KT20 7NS. Customer Support 0845 3008034. www.zoetis.co.uk . Always seek the advice of your medicines provider. Use medicines responsibly (www.noah.co.uk/responsible).
Dave is an RCVS advanced practitioner in Sheep Health and Production. He qualified from the Royal (Dick) Veterinary College in 2004, working mainly as a production animal veterinary surgeon, until joining Zoetis (previously known as Pfizer Animal Health) in 2010 as an Area Veterinary Manager. In 2015 Dave joined the Zoetis National Veterinary Manager team.
Dave’s areas of interest are the health and production of sheep and the sustainable control of parasites in farm animals. He is the chair of the NOAH anti-parasitics committee and sits on various national cross industry bodies including the sustainable control of parasites in sheep (SCOPS) board.
Dave is from a farming background and still manages his own flock of pedigree Texel and commercial mule sheep on the Welsh-Shropshire border.