Sheep farming

Parasite Watch 2017: Save money by spotting worm risks early.

Detection of parasites has been incredibly valuable for farmers involved in the Zoetis Parasite Watch Scheme this year.

Many producers say they have been surprised by when the parasite challenge occurred and have also saved money as a result of only drenching when necessary.

We talked to some producers about their experience this year.

Gareth Jones, Lampeter

Gareth Jones, who farms near Lampeter, Ceredigion, took faecal egg counts all season. In one test taken at the end of August he was shocked to see no worms in the group of lambs tested.

“Normally we would blanket treat lambs at weaning, but we didn’t have to. It shows we were using too much wormer before and as a result have saved money. There’s no point taking a paracetamol if you haven’t got a headache,” he said.

Mr Jones says he will definitely continue basing worming decisions on faecal egg count tests, as it has really made a difference to his life on the farm.

Tom Carlisle, Coxons Farm, Skipton

Tom Carlisle says he also hasn’t had to dose lambs in the ‘back-end’ of the season due to low worm egg count results.

Early in the season, Mr Carlisle said he ‘had his eyes opened’ when worm egg counts came back high. He says the shock of high egg counts “allowed us to get on top of it before any major problems."

This means they have not been dosing unnecessarily and have been dosing correctly. They have been using the tests to check the wormers are working. Knowing that the drenching has been successful has led to a productive grazing season.

Roy Weir, Dressertland Farm, Thornhill, Dumfries

Scottish farmer Roy Weir says basing worming decisions on fact is something he has been doing for the last few years and will continue in the future.

"It’s been a quiet year on the farm for us as we didn’t have much of a problem with Nematodirus. From a management point of view it means you can treat sheep for worms at the right time and only when needed.”

Steve Thompson, Trewern Farm, Cardiff

For Steve Thompson, a Welsh farmer from Llanilltern, not only has monitoring egg counts helped him save money on treatments, but it also identified fluke earlier than expected.

He said that usually, he would treat according to schedule, but has since changed his mind. “I didn’t think fluke was a problem so early in the year, we normally treat nearer to tupping time. Testing has opened my eyes to the problem. We now see fluke as an earlier problem and the tests have highlighted the issue before we lost any animals.”

John Hoskin, Maiden Castle Farm, Dorset

For South West farmer John Hoskin, being involved in the scheme has focused his attention on taking regular faecal egg samples.

“You can’t afford to worm sheep every month irrespective of what is happening. Regular faecal egg counts have benefitted the farm,” said Mr Hoskin.

Tests on his farm this year and previously have revealed some resistance problems, which has reinforced the importance of taking egg counts.

He adds: “Taking faecal egg counts allows us to keep on top of things. We are trying to use wormers sensibly and take preventative action, plus it saves us money which is always a bonus.”

His vet Emily Gascoigne stresses the importance of farmers knowing whether wormers are working on their farm. She says: “As a minimum, farmers drenching sheep should be following up with a post drench check test to see whether the product has worked. If you go to the petrol station and put diesel in your tank you always check it is full afterwards, in the same way you need to check the worms have been removed.”

Parasite Watch 2018

Parasite Watch will be back in 2018 with an updated, easier to use service, for further updates go to www.parasitewatch.co.uk or follow us on Facebook (SheepfarmersUK) and Twitter (@Sheep_farmers)

For further information contact Zoetis UK Limited, Walton Oaks, Dorking Road, Tadworth, Surrey KT20 7NS. www.zoetis.co.uk. Customer Support: 0845 300 8034.
Use medicines responsibly (www.noah.co.uk/responsible). Date of preparation: October 2017 AH751-17