What is the project about?
Helminth (worm) infections are a hugely significant drain on production efficiency for grass-based ruminant systems prevalent in Northern Ireland. At present the control of parasitic helminths relies upon anthelmintics, but their widespread application at whole-herd level is leading to anthelmintic resistance (AR), reducing their effectiveness.
Problems with AR are well documented globally on sheep farms and increasingly throughout the cattle industry, and studies have been undertaken focusing on changes to routine whole herd treatment protocols towards a more focused Targeted Selective Treatment (TST).
The objective of this project is to determine the feasibility and practicality of implementing TST of helminths on Northern Ireland commercial farms, in order to reduce anthelmintic resistance. Group members will design, trial and evaluate relevant targeted TST strategies to better understand the feasibility of their widespread use on farm.
How will the project be implemented?
This Operational Group, led by AgriSearch, consists of seven ruminant farmers from across Northern Ireland, working together with research experts. Data will be collected from each farm in order to design suitable farm specific TST strategies that will be implemented by each farm. To support decision making, live weight gain information and faecal egg count (FEC) data will be used to determine the need to use anthelmintics. Each farmer will trial the use of FECPAK technology which provides rapid FEC results using automated imaging and cloud-based egg recognition.
All liveweight gain, FEC and anthelmintic treatments will be recorded alongside grazing movements to continually monitor and evaluate effectiveness. The findings will then be translated to inform the feasibility of wide scale uptake of TST across the ruminant sector in Northern Ireland.