SQPs urged to help cattle farmers change their approach to parasite control

Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health has launched the Change One Thing campaign; and is urging SQPs to support beef and dairy producers to change their approach to parasite control.

The Change One Thing campaign was launched after the results of a recent survey, which suggested that many cattle producers are struggling to implement some simple, but impactful changes.

The survey aimed to investigate the extent to which beef and dairy producers are aware of methods to sustainably control parasites; how many are following best practice techniques, and what advice and support they need to make a change.

Sioned Timothy, Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health’s ruminant technical manager, said: “Reassuringly, 70% of respondents who are the main decision maker indicated that they were either very concerned or a little concerned about wormer resistance on farm.

“This level of awareness is positive since wormer resistance is on the rise, and the livestock industry must make changes to parasite control if we are to safeguard the effectiveness of wormers.”

However, the survey indicated that farmers are not asking professionals such as their vet or SQP for advice on parasite control as much as they could.

Ms Timothy said that only 55% of main decision maker respondents asked their vet for advice on parasite control planning as part of overall herd health planning, and that dropped to 21% for specific parasite control advice.

In addition, only 65% of main decision makers sought advice from an SQP when purchasing worming or fluke products, despite SQPs being qualified to provide parasite control advice at the point of prescription and supply.

Ms Timothy highlighted that nearly 25% of main decision makers had not implemented the calibration or testing of their wormer dosing guns, and a further 12% were not even aware of this practice.

She added: “These producers are missing a simple opportunity to ensure that their cattle are dosed correctly. Under-dosing is one of the factors that drives resistance to anthelmintics on farm, and over-dosing increases costs unnecessarily.”

However, Victoria Hudson, senior brand manager at Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health, said the survey did highlight some positives.

Ms Hudson said: “Respondents indicated a good appetite for change provided they could access the appropriate advice and support.

“Including implementing weighing and tracking growth rates of youngstock (53%), testing for parasite burdens in individual animals (52%) and testing for parasite burdens in groups of animals (43%).

“Just over a third of respondents felt they might be able to quarantine and treat bought-in cattle, manage pasture, and use vaccination or other preventative measures. However, only 31% of main decision maker respondents felt they could make the easiest and simplest change: calibrating and testing dosing guns before use.”

Ms Hudson added: “There is more work to do to help beef and dairy producers make the most effective and sustainable changes to parasite control.

“This is why we have launched Change One Thing, a campaign to support farmers in understanding and implementing the options available to improve the sustainable control of parasites.”

The campaign is also calling on SQPs to Change One Thing, relating to the information, support and advice that they give livestock farmers.

Ms Hudson added: “It can be difficult for SQPs to have conversations with farmers about making changes to their parasite control practices, so we urge them to think about changing their approach to discussing the topic, especially if their customer has so far resisted making any changes.

“Being inquisitive, and asking questions, can be more effective than ‘telling’, and it’s important that farmers believe in the need to make the change, and that they can practically do it. Even small changes can make a big difference, and testing and trailing strategies tailored to an individual farm will help the farmer to see the benefits for themselves.”

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