With temperatures predicted to increase to the season average from this weekend experts are advising that preventative action against blowfly strike must be considered even after the unseasonal weather.

With temperatures predicted to increase to the season average from this weekend (April 13-14, 2013) experts are advising that preventative action against blowfly strike must be considered even after the unseasonal weather.

sheepRichard Wall, professor of zoology at Bristol University and author of a number of published research studies into livestock parasites, has warned sheep farmers not to put blowfly prevention measures off.

He explained: “People talk about climate warming but the main issue farmers need to deal with is climate variation. In 2012 we witnessed a very early spring whereas this year it’s extremely late. As a result, getting the timing right for treatment of ewes and lambs against blowfly strike can be extremely difficult – due to the unpredictability of the weather.

“What we do know, however, is that when the weather warms up so does the incidence of blowfly strike. 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.”

He added: “Forecasters have predicted that temperatures will increase to around 12°C from this weekend. As soon as the temperature rise above 9°C, blowfly larvae that have overwintered in the soil start to develop and eventually pupate, so the start of the strike season will not be far behind. Farmers, must therefore start to plan their preventative measures, because once the adult flies are on the wing blowfly strike happens extremely quickly.”

blowflyAccording to Prof Wall, larvae can mature in as little as 2-3 days after the eggs are deposited in the fleece of a susceptible sheep and, if missed, a sheep can die from repeated strikes within 1-2 weeks.

Blowfly strike occurs on over 80% of sheep farms, but can be easily prevented through the use of products which contain insect growth regulators (IGRs).

IGR products prevent the development of the damaging second and third stage maggots which are responsible for causing fly strike and stock damage.

Katherine Openshaw, ectoparasiticides category manager at Novartis Animal Health, said: “We understand that farmers are already stretched in so many ways and having to check their animals twice a day for strike is an additional pressure. We have developed a campaign aimed at helping farmers prevent the occurrence of blowfly strike. ‘Prepare, Predict, Prevent’ offers simple, yet effective advice to avert an outbreak.”

The campaign will involve PR and advertising to raise awareness and advise veterinary surgeons, SQPs and sheep farmers whose flocks are most at risk, and promote preventative solutions as best practice, including the use of IGR products.

According to the company, Novartis’ CLiK and CLiKZiN are the only IGR products available with Fleecebind technology, which provides practical cover, consistent protection, water resistance and full fleece coverage for up to 16 weeks.

  • To help increase awareness and to better understand the unpredictable blowfly season, Novartis Animal Health is urging SQPs, farmers and key opinion leaders nationwide to answer a short questionnaire at www.farmanimalhealth.co.uk/fleecebind-questionnaire.
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