Worm counts

There has been a significant rise in the number of farmers recording high worm counts in faecal egg count (FECs) analyses over the last week to 10 days.

There is still some variability in temperatures forecast over the next week, but all forecasts point to a welcome increase. This could give rise to a higher worm burden on pasture and raise the risk of performance being curtailed.

It is important to note that where FECs have been collected, there has been significant variability between batches of lambs grazed in different areas.

This is due in part to previous grazing management, and raises the importance of collecting a representative sample from each grazing group and basing decisions on accurate results.

It is also important to be mindful of product choice and putting plans in place to carry out a faecal egg count reduction test where there are any concerns regarding anthelmintic resistance.

The threat of nematodirus has also not gone away for later-born lambs, and this should be considered where there are any characteristic symptoms evident, such as lambs suffering from a green-coloured scour and performing poorly.

More advanced signs are lambs drinking more due to dehydration and becoming dull and lethargic.

Finally on the topic of worm control, it has been a challenging year for yearling hoggets rearing lambs, and it is possible that the development of natural immunity could have been delayed. It is recommended to also include these animals for FECs.

Lamb kill-out

Lamb kill-out in the first of the main flock of mid-season lambing ewes is reported as being variable, which is not surprising given the challenging weather in recent months.

Young, fleshed ewe and ram lambs which have had access to very good-quality grass or creep feed are reported as killing out between 47% and 50%.

In contrast, lambs which had a tough start and took longer to reach slaughter condition are killing out in the region of 45% to 46%, with some aged ram lambs in particular with a significant level of crossbreeding in the mix dropping below this range.

As such, it is important that farmers draft carefully on a combination of live weight and fat score.

There is an appetite in some cases to move lambs quicker due to recent price pressure, but if it results in lambs killing underweight or underfleshed and liable to price penalties then this is a false economy.

If there is pressure to move lighter lambs then the mart trade is a better outlet, with buying emerging for lighter types.

Nuisance flies

The focus for many over the coming days ,when temperatures will hopefully rise, will be on dealing with blowfly strike. An upturn in weather is also likely to lead to an increase in fly activity across all types of flies, including nuisance flies such as head flies.

Animals which are more prone to attack include breeding rams, particularly where rams are batched together and occasional fighting is present.

It is worthwhile administering fly protection to such animals, taking care to follow manufacturers’ guidelines in terms of using the correct application nozzle and administering product in the correct manner.