Good lamb weights and strong demand for pedigree stock

Our #Parasite Watch farmer, Crosby Cleland, was certainly keeping a lot of irons in the fire at our most recent visit. Between weighing lambs and selecting those for the factory, selling pedigree stock from the farm and participating in the European Animal Science Conference which has taken place in Northern Ireland for the first time, it was a case of 'conversation as he worked'.

Tuesday, 6th September 2016, 10:02 am
Updated Tuesday, 6th September 2016, 11:06 am
Worm resitance in sheep costs the UK sheep farming industry £84 million each every year
Worm resitance in sheep costs the UK sheep farming industry £84 million each every year

Regarding lamb weights he has had an average daily live-weight gain of 180 grams per day over all lambs including the ones which showed medium levels of worm infection mid-season. He points out that the early identification of coccidiosis through routine faecal sampling and subsequent prompt treatment helped to contribute to this thrive.

The lambs also received a mid-season dose of STARTECT® Dual Active which helped to knock out any resistant parasites which have accumulated and survived preceding drenches, as evidenced by a completely clear faecal egg count two weeks after the treatment. Thus the term “Knockout Drench” which is often used to describe this use.

Commenting on the treatment, Aurelie Moralis, Veterinary Consultant with Zoetis points out that worm resistance costs the UK sheep farming industry £84 million every year.

For example, if a weaned lamb is to put on 10kg and worm control is poor then it will take 14 weeks at 100g per day and the lamb will eat 120 kg of feed dry matter. On the other hand if the worm control is effective it will take five weeks at 300g/day and the lamb will eat just 65kg of feed dry matter.

She concedes that STARTECT Dual Active may seem more expensive to purchase than other products, but, due to its efficacy which is >99%, it is the most cost effective. A New Zealand study examined the economic impact of resistance by comparing production parameters in lambs treated either with STARTECT (99% effective) or a white drench (1-BZ) to which resistance was known to be present (40-50% effective) over a five month period. Using the less effective wormer led to: a reduction in lamb live weight by 9 kg, 10.4% reduction in carcass value and an additional 17 days needed to get 50% of lambs to target weight.

Studies in the UK have found that 94% of farms have worms resistant to a white drench, 68% have resistance to a yellow drench and more than 50% to ivermectin type drenches.

STARTECT is a dual active anthelmintic drench which is not only effective against anthelmintic resistant worms but also prevents resistance development.

Crosby now has groups of lambs going to the factory every week through the Strangford Down Lamb Group and prices at £3.90 per kilo are satisfactory. He notes that prices are similar to what they were three years ago and points out that this is due to the similar monetary exchange rate. The lambs are marketed through Linden Foods and he commented on the detailed information received regarding weights and grades which is valuable for group members when analysing their sheep enterprise performance.

Demand from private customers for pedigree stock, both rams and ewes, is also very high at the moment and prices for these are also good.

Comments from other sheep farmers within the #Parasite Watch group on Twitter and Facebook include:

“Keeping watch on egg counts to time the Knockout Drench.”

“Lambs ready for market getting a multivitamin drench after Startect® treatment.”

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