With the latest egg count data for Wales showing medium counts of roundworms in sheep, and as we enter a wet period following a warm spell of weather, it is vital that farmers have a good handle on worm control in their sheep flocks.

Lambs are more susceptible to infections caused by worms during the summer.

Temperature plays an important role in the development and survival of infectious eggs and larvae at pasture, with faster rates of development at higher temperatures.

The warm weather in recent weeks could therefore have led to an increased level of pasture contamination.

This, along with increasing grazing activity for recently weaned lambs that are yet to develop a protective immunity, can lead to parasitic problems for sheep farmers in Wales.

Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales’s (HCC) animal health planning project, Stoc+ aims to address infectious diseases such as worms in sheep flocks and advise on effective treatment by encouraging producers to have a proactive health plan in place for their farms

Stoc+ project officer Lowri Reed said: “It is important to have a parasite control plan which forms part of a general animal health plan for the year ahead. Worm control is vital for good growth rates and profitable sheep systems, with even modest levels reducing performance and increasing costs.

“Farmers should be mindful, however, that they don’t overuse anthelmintic methods of controlling worms and contribute towards the development of resistance. We need to act now so that worms can be effectively controlled in the future and this is how the Stoc+ project will benefit our industry.”

During July, an expression of interest window to recruit the next cohort of farmers for the Stoc+ project was opened, and practising vets were invited to the HCC stand at the Royal Welsh Show to discuss animal health planning and methods to prevent and stop the spread of common diseases within flocks and herds.

Lowri Reed added: “We’re pleased that so many Welsh farmers are keen to get involved and are looking forward to working with as many as possible of them over the next few years.”

HCC has published a number of animal-health related booklets including ‘Worm Control in Sheep’.

It outlines the principles for best practice and states that responsible control of worms depends on careful understanding of the risks from contaminated pasture and strategies to use cleaner grazing; the use of faecal egg counts at appropriate times of the year; and an emphasis on only using the right product for the right animal at the right time.

“If worms are a problem on your farm, try the three-point plan for effective treatment,” said Lowri Reed.

“Weigh the lambs that need to be treated and use the recommended dose.

"Store the products correctly, always check the use-by date and use within the time stated on the label.

"Maintain dosing guns and injections, clean all equipment after use and check that drenching guns are working effectively.”