Forecasters have predicted that temperatures will increase to the season average from this weekend (13th and 14th April), so experts advise that preventative action against blowfly strike must be considered even after the unseasonal weather.
Due to extremely poor weather in 2012 followed by a long, cold winter, the list of problems for sheep farmers has been increasing additional feed and fuel bills, Schmallenberg and cash flow issues. Now farmers are dealing with the effects of perished livestock from the recent snow and cold weather.
Richard Wall, professor of Zoology at Bristol University and author of a number of published research studies into livestock parasites, has warned sheep farmers not to put blowfly prevention measures off.
Professor Wall explains: People talk about climate warming but the main issue farmers need to deal with is climate variation. In 2012 we witnessed a very early spring whereas this year its extremely late. As a result, getting the timing right for treatment of ewes and lambs against blowfly strike can be extremely difficult – due to the unpredictability of the weather. What we do know, however, is that when the weather warms up so does the incidence of blowfly strike. Recent research shows that a 3C increase in average seasonal temperature would be expected to approximately double the frequency of strike in lambs and lead to four times more strike in ewes.
Forecasters have predicted that temperatures will increase to around 12C from this weekend. As soon as the temperature rise above 9C, blowfly larvae that have overwintered in the soil start to develop and eventually pupate, so the start of the strike season will not be far behind. Farmers, must therefore start to plan their preventative measures, because once the adult flies are on the wing blowfly strike happens extremely quickly. The larvae can mature in as little as 2 to 3 days after the eggs are deposited in the fleece of a susceptible sheep. If an infestation is missed the reality is that a sheep can die from repeated strikes within 1-2 weeks.
Fiona Anderson, vet at Novartis Animal comments: Blowfly strike occurs on over 80 per cent of sheep farms. If untreated it can severely affect the welfare of infested sheep, and may result in death. Prevention is always best because adult flies can lay so many eggs on a flock and farmers do not have the time to check their sheep. Blowfly strike can be easily prevented through the use of products which contain insect growth regulators (IGRs). These prevent the development of the damaging second and third stage maggots which are responsible for causing fly strike and stock damage.
Katherine Openshaw, ectoparasiticides category manager at Novartis Animal Health, says: According to the research, elevated temperatures are likely to bring about increased levels of blowfly strike which can potentially have a devastating impact on flocks. We understand that farmers are already stretched in so many ways and having to check their animals twice a day for strike is an additional pressure. We have developed a campaign aimed at helping farmers prevent the occurrence of blowfly strike. Prepare, Predict, Prevent offers simple, yet effective advice to avert an outbreak.
Protecting the future of flocks
CLiK and CLiKZiN are the only IGR products available with Fleecebind technology, says Novartis. The FleeceBind formulation spreads around the fleece and onto new wool growth and then binds strongly to the lanolin in the wool. The unique patented technology provides practical cover, consistent protection, water resistance and full fleece coverage.
CLiK and CLiKZiN with FleeceBind technology offer farmers flexible blowfly prevention products whatever the production schedule. CLiK gives the longest duration of cover at 16 weeks, which minimises labour requirements for farmers and CLiKZiN offers farmers greater flexibility when marketing lambs with a 7-day short meat withhold, adds the company. For a short questionnaire, go to: www.farmanimalhealth.co.uk/fleecebind-questionnaire
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