Farm Ireland

Tuesday 22 August 2017

Prevention key so choose your wormer wisely

Timmy Leahy, Tom Quigley, Tommy Cunningham and Jack Raftery sharpen their
scythes to launch the 11th Mountbellew Vintage Show, which takes place on Sunday
Timmy Leahy, Tom Quigley, Tommy Cunningham and Jack Raftery sharpen their scythes to launch the 11th Mountbellew Vintage Show, which takes place on Sunday

Peadar Scanaill

Grazing ground was glad of a bit of rain after the long dry spell, but we've had enough now and need it switched off again.

The lambs are weaned a few weeks at this stage, and dealing with worms, fluke, feet, skin, parasites and vaccinations are on the to do list.

Wet weather and bare pastures help worm numbers to build up as the shorter grass has more eggs and larvae packed on to each leaf. In addition, the moisture stops the worms drying out, so they live longer.

Seek advice and take time when choosing your wormer. The same goes for fluke treatment. Resistance is a very big problem with parasites in sheep. Over-dosing and under-dosing is often seen on Irish farms. When dosing a flock of sheep be as accurate as you can with the weights. Try to avoid setting the gun at one dose rate to treat a full batch.


Their weights will vary a lot and an average weight means that half will be under-dosed, which can lead to resistance. Check with your vet if you suspect resistance to your most commonly used wormer. A simple test involving dung samples after worming can tell a lot.

It is well known that using the same wormer all the time should be avoided. What is less well known is that a lot of brand names are the same product under a different flag.

Another point not commonly considered is how often the wormer should be changed. It is not necessary to change for each treatment. In fact, it is better to change just once a year and then back again to the original, as long as resistance is not already a problem on the farm.

Fluke has been a huge problem, especially in wetter areas. The last two wet summers resulted in serious problems. The increased level of infestation has resulted in sheep being lost within a few weeks of exposure in some instances. Treatment will also be required to counter this threat.

Many farms are now vaccinating ewes before they go to the ram. Mix the bought-in ewes with the main flock to allow immunity to build against Toxoplasmosis before breeding. The vaccine against Toxoplasmosis is off the market at the moment so auto-vaccination can be used to good effect. Pasteurella vaccine, combined with the clostridal vaccine, is worth considering in July-August. Pasteurella can strike a flock very quickly, and treatment is expensive and often ineffective. Prevention is the name of the game.


Dipping for skin parasites is on the go at the moment. Always remember to keep the sheep in the dip for one minute each. Plunge the head at least twice, allowing the sheep to breathe between plunges. Dips can cover for control of fly strike and lice ticks, but that is not always the case for pour-ons.

Pour-ons are very useful, especially where help is not available, and some can cover from six to 16 weeks at a time.

Fleece loss and skin scratching can be caused by surface parasites or burrowing parasites. Some products only cover one or the other so if you do not see a desired effect after treatment, then check what is active on the sheep before repeating the treatment.

Irish Independent