An insight into a Farming Connect led laying hen project was presented at Wales’ inaugural pig and poultry event, organised by Farming Connect and Menter Moch Cymru, which looked at using exzolt to control red mite in laying hen units.
The work was carried out at one Farming Connect’s focus sites; Wern, on the outskirts of Foel, near Welshpool, and the home of Osian Williams and his family who farm beef, sheep and 32,000 laying hens on the 486 hectare (1,200 acre) upland farm.
The farm diversified into poultry in 2011, and was now on its seventh flock.
With 80-90 per cent of the UK flock thought to be affected by red mite, Mr Williams said he was keen to take a proactive approach to tackling the problem when he became involved in the project, which was looking to find an effective and financially viable control for red mite within poultry units.
The project saw Mr Williams administer the product, via the water supply, for the first time in May 2018, and with close monitoring and the use of red mite traps, has seen the need to re-administer every few months to keep on top of red mite populations.
Dave Hodson of Rosehill Agricultural Trading, Shropshire, said: “It is important to remember that the treatment is not a vaccine and is only active in a bird for 15 to 20 days, after which point re-infection can occur.
“Red mite is estimated to cause £315 million worth of financial damage to the European market, but at farm level can have wide-reaching implications.
“For the busy free range farmer it is important that keeping red mite at a minimal level, and treatments must be perfectly applied and appropriate to the burden. Osian was able to keep red mite levels low, bird health excellent with no need for antibiotics and production consistently high”
Despite the considerable cost of the product, Mr Williams said it was an investment he had found was worth making on his unit, in terms of its effectiveness in controlling red mite when administered correctly, compared to other options, such as spraying, alongside the associated reduction in other treatments including antibiotic usage.
He added that it should be used as a tool, in combination with other control methods, to minimise red mite in the flock.