Significant progress in the first year of the project

Members of the EIP group on Selective Targeted Anthelmintic Treatment met at John Martin's farm last summer.
Members of the EIP group on Selective Targeted Anthelmintic Treatment met at John Martin’s farm last summer.

Alongside AgriSearch, the EIP project group is made up of three cattle ranchers, two dairy ranchers, two sheep ranchers with technical input from Queen’s University, AFBI and AHWNI.

This 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, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA ).

Anthelmintic resistance (AR) is becoming widespread in all ruminant industries and targeted selective processing offers the potential to reduce the use of anthelmintics on the farm and, in turn, reduce cases of AR. While TST has been shown to be effective in research trials, its adoption on commercial farms remains limited.

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To enable each of the participating farms in the project to implement TST practices, each farm first undertook a survey of usual anthelmintic practices, after which a range of options for targeted and targeted treatment were developed by experts. experts from Queen’s University. The implementation of these plans was made possible by the investment in weighing equipment as well as the supply of a FECPAKG2 kit. This allowed for regular monitoring of animal performance (e.g. live weight gain) and on-farm egg-in-fecal count (FEC) testing – key indicators of the presence / absence of parasites.

The results of the first year are promising with the majority of farms able to reduce the number of anthelmintic treatments undertaken compared to a usual year. Using indicators, decisions can be made about when to treat and when to wait. In addition to when to treat, what to treat can also be confirmed by doing the stool egg count test. Farms have also found that ensuring that the correct dose is used and that the correct amount is used (based on the live weight of the animals) can also go a long way in reducing the total use of anthelmintics on the farm and, in ultimately, to minimize the risk of RA.

The first year of the project involved a steep learning curve for many of the farms involved and the support of Queen’s University and the EIP task group as a whole was essential to its success. Learning to trust the results of FECPAK and deciding when to act were the main challenges, as was the additional time required to gather the necessary information on the indicators. So far, the implementation has therefore mainly been at the level of targeted treatment as opposed to selective targeted treatment. The second year of the project will focus on expanding the use of TT / TST with all participating farms motivated to build on what they have learned so far.

AgriSearch CEO Jason Rankin said, “This project would not be possible without the efforts and commitment of the farmers involved. It was extremely interesting to see how each farm implemented the technique and the impact it had. It is clear that reductions in the use of anthelmintics (even if small) can be achieved in a relatively short period of time. Although this is possible, it is often difficult and the project will therefore continue to explore the feasibility of widespread adoption of TT / TST.

For those interested in learning more about Anthelmintic TT / TST and the results of the on-farm activity, a webinar is scheduled for February 7, 2022 at 8 p.m. To register for the event, visit the AgriResearch website.

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