Sheep farmers on a major agricultural project are receiving help to deal with one of the diseases which can cause problems for lambs during the Spring and into the Summer.
Nematodirus is a disease that effects young lambs, potentially slowing their growth and causing long-term health problems.
The sunny conditions seen in late-March may be a cause of concern. Cold weather quickly replaced by warming temperatures can cause the Nematodirus larvae to hatch in large numbers which can lead to a considerable challenge in young lambs that are currently grazing.
Adrian Ford of Iscoed Farm, near Whitland, is part of the Stoc+ flock and herd health planning project, led by Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC) and funded by Welsh Government and the EU.
Adrian said, “Following a Nematodirus issue on the farm in 2021, I have planned ahead and used my Stoc+ action plan drawn up by my vet, Lucy Sullivan to prevent Nematodirus being an issue. I will be using grazing management as a proactive tool by ensuring that I avoid putting lambs on pastures grazed by young lambs in the previous year – to reduce the risk”.
Vet Lucy Sullivan said; “With nematodirus as with many other health conditions affecting livestock, prevention is better than cure. This is especially the case with nematodirus as lambs can show severe clinical disease 3-4 days prior to adult worms actually producing eggs – meaning we need to really utilise forecasting and appropriate grazing management.
“Faecal egg counting won’t be effective at this stage. It’s important to note that infection passes from one years lamb crop to the next with no significant role played by the ewe, the highest risk pastures are those grazed by last year’s lambs.
“As there has been a confirmed case of Nematodirus already in Carmarthenshire this year, it is important for all farmers to stay vigilant and regularly check the Nematodirus forecast.
“We’re hoping to make a difference through actions such as grazing management, which will help both in terms of securing the best possible animal welfare as well as maximising the efficiency of the farm.”
Farmers across Wales can monitor the risk by checking the risk map on the website run by SCOPS (Sustainable Control of Parasites in Sheep). The map uses the latest data to forecast where problems may arise.
HCC’s Stoc+ is one of three 5-year projects in the Red Meat Development Programme which is funded by the Welsh Government Rural Communities – Rural Development Programme 2014-2020, which is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the Welsh Government.