FEC monitoring a high priority this season

By Ben Allott

Here in North Canterbury the level of parasite challenge affecting ewes and lambs last spring and summer was huge and conditions are lining up to repeat this challenge again last year.

Following the heavy parasite challenge last spring we then saw a season of high egg counts in 2-tooth and mixed-age ewes on many farms right through the autumn and well into winter.  Scanning rates, ewe condition, and hogget growth rates were definitely impacted.  This has been followed by a mild winter with very few frosts to lower the level of parasite larvae on pasture. With regular rainfall through the spring and with conditions warming up, we are starting to see this translate into high egg counts in many of the monitoring samples we have collected so far this season.

Around the district, my observation is that many mobs of ewes with lambs at foot appear to be dealing with a heavy parasite challenge again this year.  Lambs are looking hard on many properties and have more dags.  Ewes are lighter in body condition, udders less full, and again dags prominent as a general observation.

I encourage farmers to collect faecal samples from groups of ewes and lambs to assess faecal egg counts and to make early and evidence-based decisions on mobs that would benefit from an early season drench.  With plenty of moisture and rising temperatures, this is not the season to let parasite burdens get away on you or the contamination cycle will start again and the challenges of last autumn will repeat themselves.

Talk to your vet, collect faecal samples, make early decisions, and retain control.  While you are at it, collecting samples from animals treated with long-acting products (Capules/LA injection) will give you an early heads up about potential drench resistance issues and increase the importance of exit drenching at weaning.