Downward Pressure On Sheep Measles
The requirement that all dogs on sheep farms must be treated four weekly for Sheep Measles as part of the New Zealand Farm Assurance Programme is a significant step in reducing the impact of this parasite says Dan Lynch, Project Manager, Ovis Management Ltd. This change means a gap in Sheep Measles control nationally is being closed even further as farmers transition to the updated Farm Assurance Programme, he said.
One of the challenges with reducing Sheep Measles levels is that surveys show farmers buying store lambs to finish have a higher prevalence than those finishing their own lambs, this despite the fact that the surveys show both groups are applying the same level of control.
This leads to a situation where the store lamb finisher is contacted about their high prevalence at processing, but the problem is with the breeder who is out of the feedback loop. In addition to this, in nearly all cases store lines are mixed so the identity of the originating farm has been lost.
However, most farmers will at some point finish lambs and will likely be part of the NZ Farm Assurance Programme meaning they will be treating their dogs four weekly. This will reduce the chance that they will unknowingly sell infected lambs to finishers.
The national prevalence for the processing season to the end of May is in line with the record low of last year although in recent months the North Island lamb prevalence is tracking slightly ahead of last year.
One factor noted during farm visits is suppliers who have had little Sheep Measles in recent seasons reducing on-farm dog treatments. “Big mistake!” says Lynch. If you achieve zero or minimal infection levels protect that achievement by keeping a tight treatment dog access programme in place.
Key steps for control.
- Dose all dogs on farm monthly
- Treat all sheep or goat meat by freezing or cooking
- Deter or ban all external dogs from entering farm unless they have a current treatment certificate.