Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Why worm management is so important in livestock production

Livestock growth rate is directly related to efficiency, so it is important that producers manage any factors that may impact on it. It is for this reason that the industry places a lot of value on anthelmintics, or wormers as they are more commonly known. 

As the UK sheep industry has become more reliant on pastures grazed by sheep alone, so the dependence of effective anthelmintics has increased.

Unfortunately this heavy use, and in some cases misuse, of these relatively cheap products has led to the development of anthelmintic resistance. Industry body SCOPS (Sustainable Control of Parasites in Sheep) has launched a set of principles which are key to being able to control worms in the years to come, as failure to do so could have a huge negative impact on farmers.

Lesley Stubbings, an independent vet and member of SCOPS, says that most sheep farmers will need to use anthelmintic products at some stage during the year. It’s important that when they are used, they are highly effective as many farmers already have resistance to three of the five available wormer groups.

To help get the message out to the industry, AHDB Beef & Lamb recently invited Lesley to host a worm control teleconference, and she has also worked with us to present a series of short informative videos on the subject. These videos cover everything from reducing dependence and resistance to getting dose levels right and calibrating injectors/guns.

Parasites are not limited to sheep of course, and worm management in cattle is also something that needs to be thought about and carried out with care. As with sheep, if the dosage is not correct, the wormers are not administered correctly or the instruments not calibrated properly, then it can affect the efficacy of the product. This has a knock-on effect on the performance of the animals and ultimately the bottom line of the business.

To help producers understand this we worked with independent farm vet Robert Smith to produce a similar set of videos for cattle farmers, demonstrating best practice techniques. Robert highlights the five ‘R’ rule as something for producers to remember:

  • the RIGHT product (source the appropriate product for particular use, consult your advisor)
  • the RIGHT animal (ensure the product you have is suited to the animal you want to treat)
  • the RIGHT time (check packaging to ensure implementation schedule, be aware of the withdrawal period of the wormer) 
  • the RIGHT dose rate (read the label and product insert to ensure you dose to the correct liveweight)
  • administered in the RIGHT way (use the right dosing equipment - drench, injections, intra-ruminal boluses)

Producers need to take action now to make sure they can carry on controlling worms effectively. More information is available on anthelmintics from the AHDB Beef & Lamb Better Returns Programme and the SCOPS and COWS (Control of Worms Sustainably) websites.

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