To Treat or Not To Treat?

Parasite watch header

To treat or not to treat?

Should farmers treat their animals? As we move into an increasingly wet and humid summer, do you know the parasite burden in your area? Farmers should be wary that 2016 will not be a repeat of 2015, where parasite burdens were at a record low. In a very short time, Zoetis have seen full fly traps pretty much everywhere, starting very early in Dorset and then moving up the country and Nematodirus showing a very similar pattern, with high counts early in the season. Other diseases, such as Coccidiosis, have shown to have had a big impact on lamb rearing. To read the June addition of Parasite Watch, click here.

Evidence-based help from #parasitewatch

Clearly, effective control of internal parasites, without spending money unnecessarily on over-using wormers, can help improve lamb growth rates and get them away early. As previewed Zoetis_tm_4cin the previous Zoetis newsletter, a localised early warning system using farm-based intelligence hotspots to help sheep farmers make more timely, evidence-based parasite control decisions has been launched by Zoetis.

Parasite Watch is based on a nationwide network of farms providing diagnostic samples through the summer. From these, real time information is available to farmers about parasite challenges in their local area. The system is already generating live information on the challenge from four key parasite types:

  • Gastrointestinal worms – regular faecal egg counts (FECs) and growth rate monitoring to check for the onset of parasitic gastroenteritis.
  • Nematodirus – regular FECs, weather data and other sources to give an indication of disease risk on sentinel farms.
  • Liver Fluke – using risk and weather data, coupled with regular sampling on Parasite Watch farms, to provide early notice of predictable threats.
  • Flies – data from Parasite Watch farms to prompt early warnings, possibly before it is noticeable around livestock, that fly populations are multiplying quickly.

Veterinary Perspective

Zoetis veterinary consultant, Dave Armstrong, says the aim of Parasite Watch is to promote timely decisions by farmers, in conjunction with their SQP animal health adviser or vet, to treat or indeed not treat.

The data collection process is led by Zoetis vets, who will also provide commentary and early warnings of parasite outbreaks and advice on challenges that could threaten sheep wellbeing and productivity.

In addition to data, Mr Armstrong says Parasite Watch farmers have also agreed to share their observations via Twitter. “Our aim is to create a resource of real-world and real-time sheep farming information that can help improve health and welfare decisions, and sheep enterprise productivity,” he says.

An advisory blog has also been created here where surveillance results and topical guidance will be posted. One of its early postings says, “2015 was a record low year for parasite outbreaks, but 2016 is unlikely to be the same. It is crucial not to get complacent.”

If you have any concerns about the parasite numbers in your area and are looking for effective solutions to protect your flock, speak to your local SQP animal health advisor in store today.

For further information please contact your veterinary surgeon, SQP or Zoetis UK Ltd, Walton Oaks, Dorking Road, Walton on the Hill, Tadworth, Surrey, KT20 7NS. Customer Support 0845 3008034. Always seek the advice of your medicines provider. Use medicines responsibly AH152/16.

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