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Strike Now Against Blowflies

04 August 2015

UK - Prevent blowfly, don't wait until it is already a problem - is the latest advice from sheep health experts.

Blowflies will be seen every year and have already been reported on farms across the UK and Ireland, however despite the slow start to the season the blowfly population will have been steadily increasing.

Coupled with recent warm temperatures, the next few weeks may prove critical for many farmers wishing to prevent multiple cases of strike in their flock.

Each case of strike increases risk to the rest of the flock

Matt Blyth, who manages a flock of 1700 in Sussex, said: “We usually see cases of strike towards the beginning and end of the season; however this year has been especially unpredictable due to unsettled weather patterns, almost the complete opposite to 2014.

"We are also seeing a lot of variation in worm counts and rapid periods of grass growth, both of which are factors which will impact the frequency and severity of blowfly strike.”

Each case of strike will increase the risk to the rest of the flock by increasing the blowfly population in the area. Once struck, an animal can die quickly or suffer a dramatic effect on growth rate as well as damage to both hide and fleece causing further loss.

Matt Blyth continues: “In the past, we have had bad damage to lambs as a result of blowfly strike and know all too well the potential consequences gambling with treatment times.

"Because of this, we have decided to prevent earlier this year, when lambs are between 6 – 8 weeks old (20kg plus), to avoid being caught out. We use a narrow-spectrum preventative treatment, dependent on the weight of the lamb and considering meat withhold times.

"I choose this method of treatment because I can be sure that once applied my sheep are protected for a period of time.”

Fly strike can be prevented through the use of preventative treatment products. Using an Insect Growth Regulator (IGR).

Protection can last as long as 16 weeks, meaning labour is minimised. Meat withold periods should be noted for those looking to market lambs. 

Fiona Lovatt, Senior Vice President of the Sheep Vet Society said: “Every case of fly strike on a farm has a significant cost to both finances and welfare, but cases of fly strike do not have to be inevitable. With the right strategy and the right products in place at the right time of year, the risk of fly strike is dramatically reduced.

“Blowfly strike is a disease which should always be controlled by taking appropriate preventative action and best practice can be based on a three-tier strategy: prepare, predict, prevent.”

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