Above average temperatures, with more hot weather set to continue through July, mean experts are advising UK farmers to be extra vigilant when looking for signs of blowfly strike, and to use preventative treatments in order to provide full fleece protection against this potentially deadly disease.

blowflyRichard Wall, professor of zoology at Bristol University, said: “Recent research shows that a 3°C increase in average seasonal temperature would be expected to approximately double the frequency of strike in lambs and lead to four times more strike in ewes.”Therefore, it is important that farmers are aware of the different treatment options available for blowfly and how they work. Incorrect product choice may result in outbreaks of strike and eventual death of a struck animal.

Fiona Anderson, vet at Novartis Animal Health, explained: “Some farmers who have treated with a shorter acting blowfly product which doesn’t offer full fleece protection have been caught out with blowfly strike due to the recent hot weather.

“As this weather looks set to continue, blowfly protection will be required for some time to come. Therefore, an insect growth regulator, which provides long lasting, full fleece protection may be the better choice.

Novartis' blowfly report“If animals have been struck, farmers need to first treat their struck animals with Crovect as this kills the maggots. They should then treat the rest of their flock, both ewes and lambs, with an insect growth regulator (IGR) such as CLiK or CLiKZiN. IGRs prevent the development of the damaging second and third stage maggots which are responsible for causing fly strike and stock damage.”

To help farmers manage the condition and help protect the future health and profitability of the UK and Irish sheep industry, Novartis Animal Health has commissioned a report, which identified that the unpredictable weather patterns make the timing of blowfly treatment difficult

Spearheaded by a group of leading sheep flock health experts, including Professor Wall, Protecting the Future of Your Flock: Blowfly strike in the spotlight provides farmers with best practice advice via three golden rules:

  • Prepare: arm yourself with the facts and put in a parasite protection plan
  • Predict: know the triggers that are most relevant to your flock
  • Prevent: plan ahead and act early

The report also found that 59% of sheep farmers have reported a case of strike as late as October, and almost a third (30%) as late as November, suggesting that if farmers do not act now and use a preventative product, their flock may be at risk of blowflies for several months to come.

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