Farmers waiting to see instances of blowfly strike in their area beforetaking action are advised to urgently consider preventative treatment, asconditions become ideal for fast and potentially devastating cases of strike tooccur.
Blowflies will be seen every year and have already been reported onfarms across the UK and Ireland, however despite the slow start to the seasonthe blowfly population will have been steadily increasing. Coupled with recentwarm temperatures, the next few weeks may prove critical for many farmerswishing to prevent multiple cases of strike in their flock.
Matt Blyth, who manages a flock of 1700 in Sussex, said: We usually see cases of strike towards thebeginning and end of the season; however this year has been especiallyunpredictable due to unsettled weather patterns, almost the complete oppositeto 2014. We are also seeing a lot of variation in worm counts and rapid periodsof grass growth, both of which are factors which will impact the frequency andseverity of blowfly strike.
Each case of strike will increase the risk to the rest of the flock byincreasing the blowfly population in the area. Once struck, an animal can diequickly or suffer a dramatic effect on growth rate as well as damage to bothhide and fleece causing further loss.
Matt Blyth continues: In the past, we have had bad damage to lambs as aresult of blowfly strike and know all too well the potential consequencesgambling with treatment times. Because of this, we have decided to preventearlier this year, when lambs are between 6 8 weeks old (20kg plus), to avoidbeing caught out. We use anarrow-spectrum preventative treatment, dependent on the weight of the lamb andconsidering meat withhold times. Ichoose this method of treatment because I can be sure that once applied mysheep are protected for a period of time.
Fly strike can be prevented through the use ofpreventative treatment products. Using an Insect Growth Regulator (IGR) withFleeceBind technology offers protection against fly strike by ensuring thetreatment first spreads, and binds strongly to the fleece, providing fullfleece protection.
CLiK and CLiKZiN are the only productswith FleeceBind technology, according to Elanco Animal Health. CLiK provides the longest duration of cover at 16weeks, which minimises labour requirements for farmers and CLiKZiN offersfarmers greater flexibility when marketing lambs with its 7-day short meatwithhold.
Fiona Lovatt,Senior Vice President of the Sheep Vet Society said: Every case of fly strikeon a farm has a significant cost to both finances and welfare, but cases of flystrike do not have to be inevitable. With the right strategy and the rightproducts in place at the right time of year, the risk of fly strike isdramatically reduced.
Blowflystrike is a disease which should always be controlled by taking appropriatepreventative action and best practice can be based on a three-tier strategy:prepare, predict, prevent.