The Sustainable Control of Parasites in Sheep (SCOPS) group is continuing to offer its Nematodirus Forecast at no charge, providing a vital service for sheep farmers, vets and advisers to protect the health of lambs born this spring.
Nematodirus is one of the first parasitic challenges lambs face when they begin to rely more on grazed grass and less on their mothers’ milk, meaning the disease can often strike before they have any immunity. This, coupled with the incredible speed that worm eggs can hatch if the weather favours them, means sheep farmers can face significant losses. That is why the SCOPS Nematodirus Forecast, with its easy-to-understand traffic light system, is being increasingly relied upon by the sheep sector.
Mark Pass, an SQP working at Willow Farm Vets in Cheshire, said: “Nematodirus is a serious disease in lambs that can cause severe disease or even death. It strikes quickly and can cause disease before faecal egg counts become useful – so it’s important sheep farmers, SQPs, vets and other advisers monitor the risk and treat quickly if diagnosis is confirmed.
“The SCOPS Nematodirus Forecast is an important tool in managing the risk. It predicts the level of challenge and time of hatching at locations throughout the UK and is updated daily. This is key, as it highlights when the risk is high in the local area and, used in combination with a farmer’s grazing history, can be used to proactively assess the risk of infection in clients’ lambs.”
Mr Pass continued: “As an SQP, I have used the forecast for a number of years now, to keep my sheep farmer clients up to date – on a daily basis if possible, and certainly every few days. I always encourage my clients and colleagues to use the fantastic service available to us.
“SCOPS is industry recognised and I’m always promoting it to my 500+ sheep farmer clients, including those within the Willows Vet Group Sheep Club. We all respect SCOPS advice and SCOPS has not only helped me become an experienced SQP, but also helped the sheep farmers in Cheshire and neighbouring counties. The SCOPS Nematodirus Forecast is major part of this, improving health and performance, cost effectiveness and animal welfare.”
The SCOPS Nematodirus Forecast is a free service provided for farmers, vets and advisors at www.scops.org.uk/nematodirus. The service uses 140 weather stations around the UK, which appear on the map, with a colour code used to indicate low, moderate, high and very high risk in that locality.
Additional support information is provided alongside the forecast, supporting farmers to take into account variation from farm to farm and even field to field.