Are you a sheep farmer in the UK? We have good news for you. It’s about to get easier (and less stressful) to protect your flock from parasites – all thanks to the world wide web.
Any day now you will be able to start making proactive and informed decisions about parasite control on your farm, rather than leaving it to fate. Best of all? This brand new service won’t cost you a penny.
What is Parasite Watch?
Parasite Watch is a network of farms who have agreed to provide diagnostic samples through the season which will give real time information to inform local farmers as to the the parasite challenge in their area. Throughout 2016 our veterinary consultants will be monitoring the results and commenting to provide you with early warnings of parasite outbreaks and advice on challenges that could threaten the wellbeing of your flock.
How does it work?
For each farm our team will gather fortnightly data on the prevalence of Nematodirus and other nematodes, as well as fluke every quarter, and fly populations every week. This data will be analysed alongside other information and shared online to give you a snapshot of parasite outbreaks across the UK. You will also get an outline of the risks to your farm and advice on how you can best protect your flock.
But that’s just the start. The farms we have partnered with will be sharing anything and everything that could benefit or would be interesting to other sheep farmers. For example, information on increasing productivity, outbreaks of diseases or the highs and lows of lamb production. Our aim is to create a resource of real-world and real-time sheep farming information that can help you improve your health and welfare decisions and the productivity of your business.
Do I have to take part?
We have already selected the farms we will be gathering data from in 2016. The information we collect will be shared here and is yours to do with as you please.
Why does it matter?
Sheep farmers face many challenges. Perhaps none more taxing than the low margins that currently exist in the industry. Anything you can do to improve the health, welfare and productivity of your flock will be reflected in your bottom line. Yet many farmers – either through lack of access to reliable information or lack of time – leave things like successful parasite control to chance. With Parasite Watch, you needn’t be one of them.
2015 was a record low challenge year in terms of parasite outbreaks. 2016 is unlikely to be the same. It’s crucial not to get complacent.
What should you do next?
Easy! We will be sharing the data we collect right here on this blog. You already know your way here. All you need to do is check back for the latest updates. You should also follow us on Twitter (@Sheep_farmers) for the latest comments and warnings from our data as well as the most relevant news from industry bodies such as Defra, NADIS and Farmers Weekly.
Parasite Watch is the first scheme of its kind in the UK. Make the decision to be part of it.
For further information, please contact your veterinary surgeon or Zoetis UK Ltd, Walton Oaks, Tadworth, Surrey, KT20 7NS. www.zoetis.co.uk. Customer support: 0845 300 8034. Use medicines responsibly (www.noak.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.