Growing resistance to wormers is having an impact on sheep flock performance nationwide.
Chloe Palmer learns more.
The Sustainable Control of Parasites in Sheep (SCOPS) initiative has been operating for more than 15 years.
But while awareness of worm resistance is growing among farmers, more action is needed to ensure the problem does not worsen in the future, according to independent sheep consultant Lesley Stubbings.
She says: “There is now almost 100 per cent resistance within worm populations to the white group of wormers on lowland farms. Recent results from a study in Wales show as much as 80 percent resistance to ivermectin. This has been caused partly by the use of ivermectin to control sheep scab and this poses a major threat to our industry.”
Mrs Stubbings stresses the importance of using the right product at the right time, adopting the correct technique and giving the correct dose for the animal.
“Often it is the simple things, such as weighing animals so they are dosed correctly, or using an appropriate gun which is calibrated properly. We see farmers using massive quantities of minerals and licks to counteract the real problem which is wormer resistance.”
Adopting a ‘holistic approach’ to parasite control is vital, Mrs Stubbings says, resulting in less frequent, more targeted anthelmintic treatment.
“It is important farmers have the confidence to reduce treatment frequency without observing any reduction in the performance of their flock. Anthelmintics must not be viewed as a security blanket.”