Sustainable Control of Parasites (SCOPs), an industry led group who works in the interest of the UK sheep industry, warns that the unseasonably warm weather we experienced in February puts lambs at risk from Nematodirus much earlier this year.
The SCOPs Nematodirus Forecast already shows that many locations are already at a moderate risk, and there has been a confirmed case of disease reported in January-born lambs in Cheshire. Although our on-site Post Mortem service have not seen any cases yet, they remain on the look out as another warm spell, could cause eggs to hatch earlier than expected.
Lesley Stubbings of SCOPS says: “Nematodirus eggs look set to hatch much earlier than last year amid recent record-breaking temperatures in February. Locations throughout the UK are already showing a moderate risk on the SCOPS Nematodirus Forecast map, which means a hatch is likely to take place within 7 to 14 days if warm weather persists, putting lambs aged 6 to 12 weeks of age at the most risk."
The forecast map is updated daily using data from more than 140 weather stations around the UK, tracking changes in risk throughout the spring and early summer. Last year it showed the ‘Beast from the East’ delayed the annual hatch and, therefore, the threat to lambs in most areas. In contrast, the early hatch this year poses a threat to earlier-born lambs.
These early cases are a reminder that Nematodirus eggs can hatch early in warmer, more sheltered fields. Make sure you keep a close eye of the SCOPs map - as soon as the warning changes, carry out a risk assessment to decide whether you need to take action for your flock.
Make sure you stay vigilant - regular worm egg counts (WEC) will help paint a clear picture if your animals are at risk. A before and after sample can tell us a lot about the wormer resistance in your animals and help you choose the best wormer - improving flock performance, reducing costs and saving you time.