July 2023 Newsletter

Published by Edna on

Some rain has now arrived, I am not convinced it is enough (yet!) or in time. It looks as though forage stocks could be tight again this year, let’s hope that means better prices at the farm gate.

We held a well-attended sheep worm meeting last week. I feel we are starting to see a concerted shift in thinking in the industry, for too long we have been following practices that select for resistant worms. For me the take home message is to consider before drenching if your lambs need worming. Treat lambs as individuals and do not treat lambs that are thriving and growing well. Indeed, perhaps we should be selecting those lambs as replacements for the future. Many farmers will routinely dose lambs (sometimes ewes as well) every 3-4 weeks throughout the summer, the choice of product used being based on price, meat withdrawal period and what there is an opened container of in the medicines cabinet or farm truck! This can lead to over usage of wormers if the lambs don’t have significant worm burdens and increasing levels of anthelmintic resistance developing on the farm. To check whether lambs need worming we would strongly recommend having a worm egg count performed at the surgery on a pooled dung sample. If you collect fresh dung samples from 10 to 15 individual lambs and bring them to the surgery, we will pool equal quantities from each sample to create a representative sample from the group to test. This will determine the level of the worm burden that lambs are carrying and whether they need treating. Worm egg counts can also be performed after worming (post treatment samples) to determine how much resistance there is to the wormer that you have used. In this case the dung samples should be checked either 1 week after treatment with a levamisole-based drench or 2 weeks after a white drench or ivermectin based treatment. If there is a significant worm egg count in a post treatment sample then resistance is suspected. Resistance to a specific wormer is considered to be present when the product is less than 95% effective, in other words 5% or more of the worms survive after dosing. Below this level, resistance will go undetected and performance is unaffected. The problem will get steadily worse as the resistant worms survive dosing and lay eggs which then hatch out to produce more resistant worms. This means that the percentage of worms that are resistant increases. At resistance levels above 20% the problem will affect performance but may not be dramatic. At levels of 50% resistance, the poor performance becomes very obvious.

A concentrated lambing and/or calving period is important in driving the efficiency of a herd or flock. Weaning weights are inevitably heavier if calves and lambs are born closer to the start of calving or lambing. In order to achieve this there are various principles that should be adhered to. Females should be receptive and cycling at the start of the mating period; if using AI provision needs to be made for either heat detection or synchronisation; adequate numbers of Fertile Males need to be used for natural mating; all health requirements need to be sorted and, there should be the ability to measure and monitor performance. We continue to see a large number of both sub-fertile and in-fertile bulls and rams. It is hugely important in order to maintain a tight block that your males are performing well. A pre-breeding semen evaluation is a relatively straightforward procedure that we do routinely on many farms prior to the start of mating. If buying a bull or ram, I would not buy one without having a semen evaluation done. If you would like to book your bull or rams then please give the surgery a call. We will be having our first Ram MOT Day on the 31st July. Rams will cost just £35 for a check over including semen evaluation.

You may have heard about declarations that will be required for sending animals to slaughter for onward EU export. From the 13th December you will be required to show evidence of having had a flock/herd inspection by a Vet in the form of a declaration from ourselves. We have a template and we are happy to make this declaration where the criteria are satisfied. We envisage a rush in December so if you have us out very occasionally it may be worth getting the form signed sooner rather than later!

Categories: News