Shearing, health and research

Happy Mums after being shorn, especially as the temperature at the time of the photograph was 26 deg C

Happy Mums after being shorn, especially as the temperature at the time of the photograph was 26 deg C

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We had difficulty catching up with our #Parasite Watch farmer, Crosby Cleland, this week as he has just started silage making. He is hopeful that it will be a quality crop as some farmers who ensiled their grass earlier are reporting very light crops.

The silage ground was only closed off for six weeks after grazing. Grazing grass on the Cleland farm has also taken off over the past three weeks and it has been a constant task keeping it ahead of the sheep with 44 bales taken off the grazing ground.

Numbers and species of flies in the traps are increasing

Numbers and species of flies in the traps are increasing

Crosby was pleased to report that the inclusion of the Deccox® 6% in the creep feed has brought the coccidiosis threat under control. Deccox®6% is licensed for the treatment and prevention of coccidiosis. It is administered as a premix included in the feed for 28 days when coccidiosis is likely to be a risk and continued if there is further risk identified.

The most recent sample results from early June also indicated another hatch of Nematodirus and Crosby intends to use a white drench again to treat the lambs.

Aurelie Moralis, Veterinary Consultant with Zoetis, said: “This season is quite high risk for Nematodirus and young lambs may need treated at three week intervals throughout the risk period. Hatching and release of infective larvae mostly occurs after a period of cold exposure followed by a period of daily maximum temperatures above 10oC. The benefit of faecal egg counts is that it can help to predict the need to treat.”

One blowfly strike on a ewe and lamb has alerted Crosby to be vigilant for this disease. He has also noted that the fly traps are attracting a lot more flies so he will possibly need to treat for flies earlier than planned, depending on weather conditions.

Derek Fulton South Derry Gymhana 1966

Derek Fulton South Derry Gymhana 1966

Commenting on the #Parasite Watch programme Crosby said that it gives an early warning of any health problems and you can be proactive regarding disease thus saving time and money treating disease in addition to saving on product that may not have been necessary if you had advance warning of the disease situation in the flock.

This comment was reiterated on the Zoetis’ #Parasite Watch site on Twitter by Alan Smellie from Peebles in Scotland who is another participant. He pointed out that his 1,200 ewes were on known high risk fluke ground before lambing but when he forwarded samples for a faecal egg count the result was “all clear”.

He saved money by avoiding unnecessary medicine use, but more importantly had the reassurance that treatment was not needed.

He commented: “Rather than dosing by the calendar, whether for roundworms, Nematodirus or fluke you only give treatments when they are justified. It is an efficient and cost effective use of medicines.”

Young sheep shearers hard at work under the watchful eye of trainers from the British Wool Board.

Young sheep shearers hard at work under the watchful eye of trainers from the British Wool Board.

Just to add to Crosby Cleland’s work load he had nine young shearers on a training scheme from the British Wool Board as he was getting ready for silage cutting.

This is all part of Crosby’s participation and contribution to the agri-food industry – assisting where possible to enable progress. He commented that the Wool Board trainers are very experienced shearers and this will ensure adequate numbers of young shearers in the pipeline which is very important for the industry.

A further contribution to progress and development is Crosby’s involvement in research. He is a member of AFBI’s Sheep Advisory Committee and is currently carrying out a trial whereby half of the ram lambs are castrated and the other half left entire. Performance of these will be quantified at the end of the season so it will be interesting to follow this research work.

As chairman of the UFU’s Beef and Lamb Committee he is also keen to have fencing included in the new Farm Modernisation Scheme.

He explained: “You might conclude that I am making this request because I am in the fencing business but that is not the case. Many farms need fencing updated and if the scheme is to assist farmers to manage their grassland management better then good fencing is vital from a management and disease point of view.”

Farmers can find further comments from the 15 farmers on #Parasite Watch on Twitter (@sheep_farmers) or on Facebook (Sheep Farmers).