January 31, 2009

Drench resistant worms in sheep – the situation on your farm

Sheep, farming, husbandry, disease, animal health, worms, internal parasites,

By Dr Clive Dalton

Answer this question – it’s compulsory!
Are the worms in your sheep resistant to the chemicals in drenches currently being used?
  1. If ‘YES’, then get your veterinarian or consultant to work out a strategy to continue farming your sheep sustainably.
  2. If ‘NO’, then make sure your conclusion is right, and is based on sound information and not just imagination or hope! Your future business could be based on a myth.
  3. If the answer is ‘DON’T KNOW’, then talk to your veterinarian or consultant urgently to find out what’s going on and develop a strategy for the future.

Key point 1:
  • Read the Rattray report (see further reading) and check that anyone giving you advice has studied it too. It's available free from NZ Meat & Wool.
  • It was done in 2003 and covers 228 pages but is still essential reference and discussion material for when you talk to your professional advisers to plan a sustainable sheep enterprise.
  • All New Zealand’s experts have made valuable comments in it and it covers world research.
Key point 2:

Fill in this form to assess where you are at, and which will help you have a very profitable conversation with your veterinarian. Click on the image and it will expand in a new window, suitable for printing.

Think - Premium lamb
  • Think about the increasing pressure coming from export markets about food safety and the international demand for chemical-free produce.
  • Talk to anyone in a meat company who has had to do a ‘trace back’ under terrible pressure from an overseas customer breathing down their neck, threatening to cancel a major shipment. They say it’s a nightmare.
  • Imagine how delighted meat companies will be in future to be able to source lamb which is ‘chemical free’!
  • Stock that have had minimal or no drench are already starting to demand a premium. Think about meat ‘lambs’ (hoggets) being sold before June that in normal circumstances will have had seven drenches by then if not more.
  • How much more would they be worth if they had received no chemical drench?
  • It won’t be long before farmers buying store lambs and meat buyers sourcing lambs for export will be demanding details of the drench status of the stock.
  • The ASD forms will become even more valuable documents in future.
  • Store sheep buyers will soon demand information on whether the sheep have been drenched, when they were drenched and what product was used to prevent importing problems of drench resistance, and having to worry about quarantine drenching.
  • Ram breeders producing worm-resistant rams to breed progeny that can be farmed without chemicals will certainly earn a premium.
Which of these sale rams will produce progeny that can be farmed without chemicals?

Disclaimer This material is provided in good faith for information purposes only, and the author does not accept any liability to any person for actions taken as a result of the information or advice (or the use of such information or advice) provided in these pages.

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