Sheep farmers warned over Haemonchus worm

Sheep producers need to be on the lookout for Haemonchus worm following any rainfall after the recent prolonged dry period.

Speaking at a SCOPS (Sustainable Control of Parasites) event at Waterend Farm, Gloucestershire, Food and Environment Research Agency (FERA) vet consultant, Professor Mike Taylor, recommended the use of faecal egg counts (FECs) to identify levels of worm activity.

He said: “Haemonchus is a big problem – getting more and more common – but one that even vets are not fully familiar with. A lot of farmers get caught out because there’s no scour and the animals simply start dropping dead.”

Consultant Lesley Stubbings said the weather conditions this year mean that if it rains in the next month there could be a big explosion of Haemonchus.

“About ten days after rainfall, people should look at the problem with the FEC and see what their level is; Haemonchus can just flare up out of nowhere and it really is something that happens all over the UK, including Scotland, so no-one is safe.”

She said although worm activity has been generally low so far this year, when it rains worms are likely to become a problem and farmers “need to be aware to act”.

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