A new European Innovation Partnership (EIP) project, led by farmer-funded re-search body AgriSearch, is determining the feasibility of implementing ‘targeted selective treatment’ (TST) of anthelmintics on ruminant livestock farms.
The EIP project group is comprised of three beef farmers, two dairy farmers, two sheep farmers, Queen’s University, AFBI and AHWNI. It is one of seven EIP projects in Northern Ireland and is jointly funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) and the Department of Agriculture, Environmental and Rural Affairs (DAERA).
Professor Eric Morgan, Queen’s University, said anthelmintic resist-ance (AR) was becoming widespread throughout the ruminant industries and targeted selective treatment offers the potential to reduce the use of anthelmintics on farm, and in turn reduce the instance of AR.
“Whilst TST has been found to be successful during research trials, uptake on commercial farms remains limited – something this project is hoping to change. By working in partnership with the participating farmers the project will develop procedures for selecting animals requiring treatment and for targeting treatment. These are the key aspects of successful TST implementation and the primary barriers of uptake to date.”
To facilitate decision making each farm is investing in infrastructure and technology to enable it to regularly monitor animal performance (eg, liveweight gain), condition and health – the key indicators of parasite presence/absence.
Each farm has been supplied with a FECPAKG2 kit to conduct faecal egg count (FEC) test on animals. Manufactured by Techion, the FECPAKG2 is an internet connected, image based diagnostic platform that can be used ‘pen-side’ by a farmer without the need for a microscope.
By providing fast reliable results, the participating farms will be able to quickly make anthelmintic treatment decisions. Training on the use of the kits has recently taken place and the group is now ready to implement TST on farm over the next two years.
EIP Operational Group Member John Martin, a sheep farmer from Greyabbey, said: “Improving anthel-mintic use on my farm will result in prolonged efficacy of available dosing products and reduced costs.
“By taking part in this EIP project
and working with new technology and the experts at Queen’s Uni-versity, I hope to learn more about what I need to do on farm to make effective targeted selective treatment decisions. Looking to the future, this additional knowledge will help develop a long-term worm management strategy that can influence replacement selection, with anthelmintic resilience becoming a desirable trait.”
Dr Sam Strain, Chief Executive at AHWNI, said anthelmintic resistance was an ever-growing threat to animal production leading to reduced efficacy of current control and treatment options. Practical solutions are urgently needed to assist farmers to control parasitism in their herds while limiting the selection for resistance to anthelmintics.
“This project is an important step in tackling this issue as targeted selective treatment is trialled in real world scenarios in Northern Ireland farms. The outputs from this project will provide the industry with local evidence of the effectiveness of this approach and, it’s hoped, encourage its wider adoption by the industry.”