Posted: Thursday May 9, 2019
Use of the latest faecal egg count (FEC) technology is helping improve anthelmintic prescription within the sheep sector, with SQP’s playing a crucial role in effective and sustainable parasite control.
According to SQP Hefin Rowlands, animal health advisor at Wynnstay, FEC’s are becoming a routine part of their consultancy to farm clients, helping deliver accurate advice that supports flock health and productivity while preserving wormer efficacy.
“Wormers are a crucial part of the toolkit for parasite control but the growing level of anthelmintic resistance on sheep farms across the country is a real threat to the sector,” says Mr Rowlands.
“94% of sheep farms have reported resistance to white drenches (group one) with resistance to group two and three now also evident. To ensure there are effective options to treat worms in the future, accurate prescription of wormers based on evidential need is important.”
He says developments in technology are making this easier, with it now possible to get results on the level of worm burdens almost straight away. This is encouraging an increasing number of farmers to take-up Wynnstay’s FEC service.
“We use the FECPAKG2 from Techion to carry out FEC’s for our clients. Internet connected and image-based, testing can be carried out virtually anywhere, including on-farm.
“The system is easy to use and allows us to collect, test and receive FEC results within a couple of hours. Due to the samples being analysed by trained online technicians, we have confidence we can provide accurate results and advise on the best treatment options and ensure animals are only being treated as and when required.”
Mr Rowlands explains that use of a wormer is often not needed, and so testing can save farmers both time and money.
“For example, a typical scenario is that farmers often put ill thrift in sheep down to worm burdens. While it could indeed be the problem, there are several other possible causes including mineral deficiencies.
“One of our farmers saved £330 over a four-month period, by taking the decision to conduct regular FEC’s instead of treating with a wormer. While historically he would have wormed his lambs three times within this period, FEC results gave him the confidence that the ill thrift he was noting was not due to worms, but in fact trace element and mineral deficiencies.”
He says sheep farmers are gradually changing their approach to wormer use and recognising the wider benefits of a more accurate and targeted approach.
“Alongside reducing the opportunity for resistance to build up, improved daily liveweight gains, reduced finishing times, and more often than not, a reduced drench bill, are some of the benefits of real value to our clients,” concludes Mr Rowlands.