Gyfylchau, Llanerfyl, Welshpool 

Focus Site Project: Improving flock health for better returns

Project Introduction:

Monitoring animal health and developing an effective health plan will ensure timely interventions are undertaken, reduce management costs, prevent and control disease and, therefore, improve the health and welfare of livestock and farm profits. Advance planning allows for treatments to be given at the most appropriate time and ensure they are being used as little as possible, but as much as necessary. With the growing pressure on antibiotic and anthelmintic resistance, this is becoming increasingly important. Targets can also be set and the flock performance continuously monitored to measure performance and to give an early warning of any problems. If targets are not met, the cause can be investigated and discussed with the vet, and the health plan revised to address the problem. Using evidence such as metabolic profiling, liveweight gain, body condition scoring (BCS) and worm egg counts is extremely valuable to develop effective grazing management plans, nutrition and worming strategies. Farmers can spend a significant amount of time and money on routine worming and by that, increasing the chance of anthelmintic resistance.

Project aims:

The farmer has three years’ worth of production data which includes scanning, weaning and days to sale. There is also condition score data and lamb/ewe losses available. 

Over the past two years, sampling for trace elements, fluke and faecal egg counts have been done showing varying burdens. Fluke egg detection on faeces and coproantigen on faeces were made, and both were positive for liver and rumen fluke in winter of 2018/19. A high worm burden was shown in the ewes in winter 2018/19. 

The main aim of the project is to implement regular monitoring of worm burdens through faecal egg counts using the FECPAKG2 platform, test for anthelmintic resistance/efficacy, BCS and improve stock performance by better managing parasite burdens and resistance. 

The main objectives are:

  1. Improving ewe condition-intervention at weaning and scanning by BCS and further examination through testing if necessary
  2. Improving scanning percentage-this will come with better control of parasites and improved ewe condition.
  3. Producing lambs off grass with minimal/no concentrate feeding. 

This project will also support the strategic actions for the Welsh red meat industry up until 2020 through ‘developing and encouraging flock health planning, disease prevention and effective quarantine practices to improve biosecurity and reduce the impact of disease’ and to ‘enhance industry understanding of economic benefits of optimising animal health and improving efficiency through effective husbandry’ (Strategic Action Plan for the Red Meat Industry, HCC).

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