In search of best practice to tackle worms in sheep

A number of organisations and animal health professionals in the sheep industry will link up today in a new initiative aimed at tackling the problem of parasitic intestinal worms.

The Moredun event will look at dealing with worms in sheep. Picture: John Devlin
The Moredun event will look at dealing with worms in sheep. Picture: John Devlin
The Moredun event will look at dealing with worms in sheep. Picture: John Devlin

Speaking ahead of the event, which will be held on a farm at Glenlivet, Dr Beth Wells of the Moredun Research Institute said the best way to demonstrate the links between better disease control and improved economic returns was in practical demonstrations.

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“We have invited a core group of farmers, and, in partnership with Speyside Veterinary Centre and Scotland’s Rural College and the Crown Estate, we shall look at a range of worm control techniques.

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“We will concentrate on worm control practices using precision farming technologies which include activities such as faecal egg count diagnostics and electronic information devices. As part of a practical workshop, the research team will benchmark knowledge and attitudes to worm control and best practice.”

Those attending will then look at examples of good and bad practice.

Dr Wells added there would be a follow-up meeting in the autumn where information from abattoirs would be included in building up profiles of how effective differing worm control strategies had been.

“This will help farmers to assess the cost implications of missing market requirements. We will be able to tie the information back to worm burdens. We know that some farmers just treat when they see clinical signs of worms in their flocks.”

Dr Wells said the workshop will be led by principal investigator Dr Dave Bartley and she hoped it would provide a template for dealing with a range of diseases including liver fluke and sheep scab.

Ian Duncan Miller, chairman of the Moredun Foundation, said: “With the current challenges facing the livestock sector, it is vital that livestock farmers increase their production efficiencies, and a clear way of doing this is to improve the health and welfare of their animals.

“Gastrointestinal roundworm infections rank as one of the top three production-limiting endemic diseases of livestock, therefore a key target for applying the available technologies and tools that the research industry has provided to improve our farming efficiency.”