9 April 1999

WEATHER HEIGHTENS RISK

THERE is little doubt that a dry spring would be welcomed with open arms by everyone in the livestock industry. Particularly as this winters mild, wet weather has proved more of a headache than many anticipated.

While it is downright depressing trudging through mud day after day, this winters weather has also increased parasite risks.

Both the Vet Lab Agency and vets are warning of increased danger from intestinal worms and liver fluke.

Fluke is highest on the priority list for control, with never-ending wet weather leading to boggy areas growing in size, increasing the area of pasture infected with fluke.

That follows hot on the heels of a worrying increase in serious clinical fluke cases, and a high number of faecal samples containing fluke eggs.

And while many sheep producers struggled to finish lambs last autumn, its more than likely that worm infestation was a major factor. But vets warn that many of these worms will have survived over-winter, ready to provide a spring challenge

Parasite challenges couldnt come at a worse time for the livestock industry, when many producers are still struggling on low incomes. For sheep farmers, the added burden of paying for dip disposal has also come as a blow.

But one thing is certain; choosing not to control parasites is the worst possible option. Ensuring that stock are performing at their best is vital to make the most of inputs and slowly rising market prices, and the saying that prevention is better than cure certainly holds true for parasite control this year.