Wales faces high risk of Nematodirus

Wales faces high risk of Nematodirus

A red warning has been issued for Wales’ sheep farmers as the risk of Nematodirus is extremely high, according to the industry-led group SCOPS (Sustainable Control of Parasites in Sheep).

The Nematodirus disease affects lambs and is caused by the worm, Nematodirus battus. At its worst it causes a high number of mortalities whilst stunting the growth of survivors.

SCOPS anticipates an early outbreak of the disease in the UK due to the late cold spell, followed by a sudden change in the weather. This will inevitably increase soil temperatures, triggering a mass hatch of over-wintered parasites.

Nematodirus battus has a different life-cycle to other parasitic sheep worms and the infection can pass from one lamb crop to the next. The dramatic change in temperature that Wales is currently experiencing is worrying as many of the lambs born earlier in the year start grazing the fields.
“A red warning means that the parasite is expected to hatch imminently,” says Siôn Aron Jones, Industry Development Manager at Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC). “Farmers are encouraged to take immediate action so as to avoid losses. SCOPS recommend using a white (1-BZ) drench for lambs that are at risk as it is highly effective against the disease.”

Lambs are at a greater risk if they are 6-12 weeks old, were affected by stress such as fostering and if they are grazing pasture that carried lambs last spring. The location and altitude of the farm will also affect the time of hatching. It may be necessary to treat lambs more than once based on these factors.

SCOPS is an industry led group that was formed to develop, facilitate and oversee sustainable strategies for parasite control in sheep. The group is sponsored and represented by a wide range of industry organisations including HCC.

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