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Keeping out resistant worms is key for Law Farming

Effective quarantine measures and strong anthelmintic management prevents the introduction and spread of resistant worms into your flock. Planning a quarantine and management strategy to control worm infections is key to avoiding serious productivity and financial impacts.

Law Farming – based around the tripoint county boundary between Hertfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Essex – has implemented a robust preventative programme of worm control in order to ensure an untroubled and profitable route to market.

Farm Stats

  • Law Farming is a 1,600ha mixed farm.
  • 1,800 ewes lambing from early January into March.
  • Between 1,000 and 3,000 store lambs bought in for finishing each year.
  • 400ha dedicated permanent pasture.
  • 100ha each year is put down to a high-quality grass ley within the arable rotation predominantly for finishing lambs.
  • 250ha of stubble turnips for winter and spring grazing.

“Sustainable worm control is crucial to our operation,” says Robert Law, farm owner at Law Farming and previous winner of the prestigious ‘Farmer of the Year Award’ from Farmers Weekly. “If we don’t keep our worm burdens to a minimum, resistant worms will multiply and ultimately cause severe performance losses on our farm.”

The system

Ewes come out of lambing sheds after a short housing period (3-4 weeks) straight onto the turnips and are then moved to the rotational grazing for optimum lamb growth. Post weaning the ewes move onto the permanent pasture where their Body Condition Score (BCS) is closely monitored ready for tupping.

“As a result, we have to be very careful with our worm burdens through the spring months to ensure they are not carried over to the permanent pastures and then back onto the new lays in the spring, while at the same time trying to reduce the amount of anthelmintics we use.”

Law Farming uses a combination off Faecal Egg Counts (FECs) and anthelmintics to effectively manage its worm burden. “We ensure that we use Zolvix™ as a quarantine dose for all incoming animals, replacement shearlings, tups and store lambs to remove any worms (including resistant ones) that they might be carrying. We also use Zolvix as a mid to late season dose for homebred lambs, late in the summer, to ensure they are not being held back by any worms that might have survived previous treatments.”

Effective Quarantine

In addition to using Zolvix for worm control, Law Farming’s strict quarantine process includes monitoring for sheep scab (and treatment if necessary), vaccination for infectious abortion and isolation from the existing flock until these have been completed. Vaccination for Pasteurella and clostridial diseases takes place later in the year to bring them in line with the main flock.

In April, Law Farming purchased replacement shearlings, which went directly from the on-farm sale into the shed. After arrival, the shearlings were weighed and given their Zolvix drench. “With the ewes going to the tups in the summer, buying in shearlings in April gives us plenty of time to acquire the appropriate vaccinations, building up their immunity and getting them to their ideal BCS before entering the full farming system.”

Lamb Management

“We want to promote fast growth in order to fulfil our supply contracts,” says Robert. “Without a robust worm control, we would start to see reduced growth rates in lambs and longer finishing times causing us higher finishing costs and lower market prices.”

With their strong results thus far, Robert is certain that maintaining a low worm burden is key to their success. “We aim for a particular market, so meeting our obligations is non-negotiable,” adds Robert. “With Zolvix, we can ensure that resistant worms aren’t a continuous problem on the farm. If we didn’t take those steps, it would cost us time, productivity, and eventually a severe financial impact.”

“It’s all about taking charge before the problem, rather than trying to make a difference when it’s too late. We dedicate a lot of our resources into trialling options and learning through our management system to achieve the best possible results we can – why would we compromise everything due to poor worm control?”