Farmers are being warned that as a result of the early autumn warm weather leading to an extended grazing period, they should be vigilant for increased parasites.
The current wet weather means that hoose or lungworms could be an issue on many farms.
Due to the increased number of parasites in the environment, lambs are continuing to suffer from high worm burdens, which can have knock-on performance impacts and slow down their finishing times.
A vet, Ben Strugnell, of Farm Post Mortems in the UK, explained that the mild weather at the start of autumn prolonged the parasite breeding season, and has put both sheep and cattle at risk of infection.
“It’s crucial to monitor lambs closely, looking for signs of poor performance. If you can, weigh them frequently and faecal egg count (FEC) test, to confirm any suspected worm burdens within a flock,” Strugnell said.
Strugnell explained that he has recently seen increased numbers of cattle come into his clinic in the UK with heavy worm burdens.
“I’ve performed several post-mortems on calves who’ve died after losing condition suddenly,” he said.
“Although the cause of death was originally thought to be liver fluke, it was revealed that these calves had bad cases of parasitic abomasitis [inflammation caused by worms)[or lungworm.”
The vet said while lungworm is uncommon in sheep, it is more prevalent in cattle, though generally only occurring every few years.
Strugnell said: “I’d caution all farmers not to forget about lungworm in cattle, and never ignore stock with a ‘husky’ sounding cough, as this is a key symptom.
“In terms of testing for lungworm, although both methods aren’t 100% reliable, you can send faecal samples away to check for larvae, and blood samples to check for antibodies after infection.”
He explained worms are harder to monitor in cattle than in sheep, as the egg numbers present in FECs are not as high, but in general, anything over 200eggs/g means it is worth worming.
“Again, in cattle, anthelmintic resistance isn’t as common as it is in sheep, but it’s still important to follow best practice by worming to weight and conducting a second FEC two weeks after drenching, to check wormer efficacy,” Strugnell added.