THE 2019 Parasite Watch has now been launched by Zoetis. This online forecasting service will offer real-time information on the worm, fluke and fly risk across the UK.

Using data from faecal egg count tests from 24 farms nationwide alongside ten years of validated weather data, Parasite Watch gives an indication of the risk of high egg counts by showing the potential for larval development on pasture.

The farms involved in the scheme have faecal samples taken every two weeks to detect major stomach worms and Nematodirus. Fluke is tested regularly during risk periods using copro-antigen testing. Flies are also monitored using fly traps.

It is the fourth consecutive year Zoetis is running the scheme. More farms are involved this year increasing from 18 to 24. Additionally, treatment and management data for the farms will also be available allowing better decision making.

Zoetis National Veterinary Manager, Dr Dave Armstrong, says using a free scheme like Parasite Watch to keep abreast with parasite risks in the local area as well as conducting regular faecal egg counts (FEC) can help save farmers money.

He said: “with the annual cost of stomach worms to the British sheep industry estimated to be about £84m, sheep farmers need to be looking at ways to reduce losses on farm due to worms, and in a responsible way. Monitoring services like Parasite Watch can alert you to risks in your area. It may prompt you to conduct a faecal egg count test to see whether there are any worm issues before symptoms appear.”

Sheep farmer Allan Smellie, Posso Farm, Peebles, has been involved with Parasite Watch for the last three years. He says taking FEC tests has helped pinpoint when sheep need dosing rather than going on the time of year.

He said: “Quite often we wouldn’t see symptoms, but when we’ve done an FEC test there’s been a worm burden there. It means we are not getting any lost growth from worms.”

“Later in the year, we can see dirty tails and traditionally we would have dosed lambs based on this. However, the FEC tests have informed us it’s not worms and is down to the lush grass. It means we are not dosing unnecessarily.”

Tom Carlisle, Coxons Farm, Skipton, is also one of the sentinel farms involved in Parasite Watch. He has been monitoring worms using faecal egg counts for the past couple of years and has had his ‘eyes opened’ by the results.

He said: “We are now only dosing for worms and fluke when required. One of the big things I’ve noticed is how some lambs have been affected by Nematodirus earlier than we would have thought, which has allowed us to treat them before any signs.”

Farmers, vets and SQP’s can access the latest Parasite Watch updates on Facebook, Instagam and Twitter, as well as the website here