Faecal egg counts slash wormer use for Ceredigion farmers

Philippa and Gareth Davies run a 120-acre lowland farm in Llangeitho near Tregaron
Philippa and Gareth Davies run a 120-acre lowland farm in Llangeitho near Tregaron

Beef and sheep farmers are being encouraged to determine the best time and way to treat a group of animals before using anthelmintic worming treatments.

A Ceredigion farm have turned to faecal egg count (FEC) samples after reading up on best practice and deciding to test each group of lambs separately.

FECs are a useful tool to help determine if treatment is needed, whether worming products are effective.

They also provide information on the pasture contamination on beef and sheep farms.

Philippa and Gareth Davies run a 120-acre lowland farm in Llangeitho near Tregaron, keeping a flock of around 300 Easycare sheep and a herd of youngstock cattle.

Ms Davies, who takes part in Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC)’s Stoc+ project, said: “We’d done a bit with FEC sampling in the past, which led us to discover that the farm was resistant to White Drench."

Through Stoc+, HCC encourages farmers to take a proactive approach to animal health in order to enhance production efficiency and the profitability of the farm.

“Once we started to do it ourselves, we ran tests on our ewes, rams, fat lambs and lambs being kept as breeding stock," Ms Davies added.

The results have helped the Davies' to decide whether to dose various groups or wait a fortnight and test them again.

The couple quickly discovered that their ewes and rams did not need regular dosing, consistently returning zero counts.

“This has led to us using fluke-only products rather than combinations at key times of the year and only needing to worm around lambing time when immunity can be lower.

"Since taking our own FECs, we dose the lambs far less which saves us time and money and gives us a better understanding of the health status of our stock.

“If a lamb isn’t thriving, we can test it individually. If the individual lamb doesn’t have a worm burden, we can work with the vet to look at other causes," she added.

"FEC testing isn’t a glamorous job but the insight it can give you about the health of your stock and the savings it generates makes it worthwhile for us.”

Farmers are encouraged to contact their vet to discuss FECs and any other testing they may want to carry out on the farm.

The Control of Worms Sustainably (COWS) and the National Animal Disease Information Service (NADIS) provide worm and parasite forecasts which identify high risk periods and further information on how to treat them.