Parasite Watch, Sheep farming

Treat parasites according to risk, not by time of the year

With no two years the same when it comes to parasite activity, farmers need to be aware of what is happening on their farm and take appropriate action based on the risk, rather than the time of year in order to prevent costly production losses.

Industry figures suggest parasitic gastroenteritis is the main production limiting disease of sheep in the UK, with an annual cost to the UK industry of about £84 million1.

This is because stomach worm infections can decrease growth rates in lambs by as much as 47% and wool production by up to 21%2.

Every year we see peaks at different times of the year. For example, in 2017, we saw Nematodirus strike some farms later in the summer because we had a period of dry weather followed by sudden rain and an increase in temperature. Farms were also challenged by fluke earlier in the season because of the weather.

This is why it’s important farmers know what is happening in their area. Farmers can use growth rates and faecal egg tests to build a picture of the risk on their farm and monitor stock to check they are maintaining condition.

Parasite Watch

To help sheep farmers, SQPs and vets assess the parasite risk in their area; Zoetis are running the successful Parasite Watch scheme for the third consecutive year.

18 farms involved in the scheme will have faecal samples taken every two weeks to detect major stomach worms and Nematodirus.

Fluke will be tested regularly during risk periods using copro-antigen testing. This will pick up immature fluke from greater than six weeks of age, giving farmers, vets and SQPs advanced warning of potential issues. Flies will also be monitored on the farm using fly traps.

Parasite information from each of the farms will be uploaded to within hours of the test result coming back, which will give a real-time picture as to what is happening on the ground.

How Parasite Watch helped in 2017

Tom Carlisle, Coxons Farm, stated “having the information is allowing us to make the best possible decisions and aid growth, welfare and the nutrition of the lambs. The challenge was a lot earlier than we would have expected. It has opened my eyes to the fact it can strike earlier than you think.”

Alan Smellie, Posso Farm, also said “normally we would see Nematodirus earlier on, but we haven’t had much of a problem up until now. This has been the most beneficial result we have had, because as soon as the results came back, we brought the lambs in and treated them with a clear drench because it was a mixed burden. The lambs weren’t showing any signs, but it was obviously underlying, we don’t want any set-backs.”

New and Improved for 2018

Visit where we’ve enhanced our interactive graph to give you better understanding of the challenges our Parasite Watch farms are currently facing; you can now much more easily see which species are impacting your area and how severe the burden is. Additionally, we’ve added treatment date and classes to give better insight into the management decisions being taken and the effectiveness of this.

We believe these new features in combination with weather data provide strong reason for you to check back regularly and join in the conversation on social media so we can support your parasite control success this year.

Get Involved

You are a source of vital information for your customers and the rest of the farming community, join Parasite Watch on Facebook and Twitter , and visit the website which is updated regularly.

To use the website, click on a farm in your area or enter your postcode and details of any parasites that have been found as well as when they were detected will be displayed. Test results will be online within hours of the test being taken.

1. Nieuwholf, G.J. and Bishop, S.C. 2005. Animal Science, 81:23-29
2. Charlier, J. et al 2014: Trends in Parasitology, Vol.30, No.7

For further information contact Zoetis UK Limited, Walton Oaks, Dorking Road, Tadworth, Surrey KT20 7NS. Customer Support: 0845 300 8034.
Use medicines responsibly ( Date of preparation: March 2018 AH178/18