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Ways to Minimise Parasite Risk in a Dry Year

05 August 2015

UK – Parasite exposure for many UK lambs has been reduced by dry weather, although farmers aren’t out of the woods yet.

Dry weather limits egg hatching, although warm, wet periods can lead to large numbers of larvae hatching over short time spans, according to the latest parasite forecast from the National Animal Disease Information Service (NADIS).

Veterinary surgeon Peers Davies said planning grazing remains essential to avoid heavily infected pastures, stressing the role clean grazing can have in managing parasite risk and ensuring performance.

“Easiest forms of clean grazing are the use of silage aftermaths, these are pastures not really used by sheep since the previous autumn which have then been cut for silage and then considered very low risk,” he said.

“Alternative forages, such as chicory and sainfoin in large parts of the country which are very efficient crops.”

He noted the high tannin levels for their role in reducing the numbers of eggs parasites shed onto pasture by reducing the efficiency of the parasite.

“Summer catch crops are also a good option, as is rotational grazing with cattle,” he added.

Mr Davies noted that Faecal Egg Counts (FECs) and measured liveweight gains can help identify optimal times for treatment and reduce subclinical production losses associated with parasites.

He added that trace elements, particularly cobalt, play a role in lamb performance, as cobalt can exacerbate the effects of parasites in lambs.

Therefore, he advised that sensible performance targets should be placed on lambs and performance should be monitored as to gauge the performance of the group.

TheSheepSite News Desk

Top image via Shutterstock

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