Posted: Thursday February 21, 2019
Innovative agricultural technology already used internationally to markedly lift livestock performance and animal welfare while optimising drench use, and which is part of a global project studying parasite management in human populations funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, was today officially launched in the Australian market.
FECPAKG2 is a simple-to-use, internet-connected, image-based diagnostic platform which allows livestock producers, rural retailers and veterinarians to perform Faecal Egg Count (FEC) tests on animals. Dung samples are processed using the FEC kit, before images are uploaded to the internet and assessed by trained technicians, who quickly return an egg count result to help producers make responsive drenching decisions.
One Australian sheep producer has reported a reduction in drench use of 60% using the platform due to more effective application, and knowing exactly when animals need to be treated. On top of this, they calculate they’ve saved tens of thousands of dollars through significantly reduced labour requirements.
In cattle, parasites previously not detectable using old technology can now be seen and treated to alleviate the effect of worms, fast tracking turnoff times by up to 30 to 40 days.
FECPAKG2 is especially useful in remote areas where producers have previously had trouble submitting samples to parasitology laboratories in regional centres. Turnaround time for conventional worm testing took several days or up to a week, while the new platform delivers results within hours.
Respected livestock veterinarian and Australian FECPAKG2 distributor Matt Playford, from Dawbuts Animal Health, said internal parasite control based on scientific insights had potential to create major positive change in farm management.
“Parasites can have an extensive impact on farm productivity and animal health and performance, reducing daily growth rates by 50% if left untreated,” Dr Playford said.
“However, treatment of the problem is so often based on gut feel or a calendar schedule, which is like taking a stab in the dark, and does not properly address worm burdens, holds back animal performance, and increases the risk of resistance.
“This technology allows us to see more than ever before, it’s simple to use and empowers producers to make informed management decisions which save them time and money while promoting greater animal health and welfare, and a more sustainable industry.”
FECPAKG2 has already assisted producers in New Zealand and the United Kingdom to achieve data-driven worm control. An extensive study undertaken in partnership with the Sainsbury’s retail chain in the UK showed sheep producers used up to 50% less drench in lamb worming and 80 per cent less in ewe worming using FECPAKG2, while 97 per cent believed regular Faecal Egg Counts can help improve lamb growth rates. The platform is also highly effective across cattle, horses and alpacas.
FECPAKG2 is also one of the diagnostic technologies being assessed by the STARWORMS (STop Anthelmintic Resistant WORMS) project to help control parasites in humans. STARWORMS is a US$2.5 million initiative funded by The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation which includes global research into drug efficacy and resistance aimed at eliminating and controlling intestinal parasites in children, particularly in Asia, Africa and South America.
Techion Managing Director, Greg Mirams, said the company was committed to supporting the livestock industries to be leaders in future-focused, profitable production that is in line with consumer expectations.
“We know there is increasing demand for higher quality and sustainably-sourced food, greater animal welfare, reduced use of drugs and chemicals, and an opportunity to better communicate provenance and to tell our good story,” Mr Mirams said.
“The European Union, for example, will prohibit the use of medicines to improve animal performance and the routine use of antibiotics in livestock will be banned by 2022 – with power to extend that ban to include antimicrobials including drenches. We have a chance to be a proactive and future-focused industry, and to be ahead of these global trends and evolving expectations.
“Techion collaborates with universities, non-profits and other commercial partners across the world to make science simple and accessible to producers and other stakeholders in the agricultural value chain, so we can work towards a strong and prosperous farming future.”
Media Contact: Stacey Wordsworth: firstname.lastname@example.org or 0438 394 371.
PDF Version of Press Release - Techion - Australia Release