Challenges Face the Dairy Industry.

Dr Lindsay Burton, Dairy Insight.

Two significant challenges now face the dairy industry in light of the current knowledge related to worm resistance, says Dr Lindsay Burton, technical advisor to Dairy Insight on animal health and welfare.

Firstly, he says, it is evident that worm resistance exists in New Zealand cattle, including those of dairy origin.

“Therefore farmers need to establish what the issue is in regard to their own farming operations,” he says. “They also need to be aware that in grazing off situations, they will be putting animals into an environment where other resistant worms may be present. They need, therefore, to understand what the policies of their grazing operation are and to ensure that these are effectively managed so that parasite resistance or parasite burdens are not production limiting and that the onset of parasite resistance is kept as low as possible.”

Research on worm resistance already done by the meat and wool industries, says Dr Burton, is equally applicable to the dairy industry.

“Given that a large number of animals which are being reared and fattened in the beef industry are from the dairy industry, our view is that the findings which are occurring within the beef industry are transferable to the dairy industry. We do not expect the situation to be at all different.”

“We just need to recognise that with the findings in the sheep and beef industries, that there are substantial differences between farms and farming practices which have been occurring. There is still not a full technical understanding of exactly why some situations have arisen, and there are differences in views between short and long acting drenches.”

“We need to recognise that the sheep and beef industries don’t have all the answers and there is not absolute clarity on every issue that exists at this stage. There is still a lot of on-going work happening in both sheep and cattle.”

A chemical answer to worm resistance is unlikely, suggests Dr Burton.

“Certainly it is possible, but I would suggest that it is still some significant distance away. People can’t place reliance on this in the short to medium term.”

Dairy Results Similar to Sheep and Beef Industry Not Surprising.

Dr Jan Quay, AGCARM. September 2006.

In a statement relating to the Inglewood study, Dr Jan Quay, technical director, animal health for AGCARM, made the following comment:-

This study complements the findings of the recent surveys completed on sheep and beef farms which revealed significant levels of drench resistance in internal parasite populations; it is not surprising that similar results are being found in the dairy industry.

Animal health companies who manufacture and distribute anthelmintic drenches want farmers to use their products for optimal productivity and animal welfare and in a responsible, sustainable fashion.

There are a limited number of drench chemicals available, and with no new drench chemicals likely to be available in New Zealand in the near future, it is very important that drench use is incorporated into an individual farm parasite management plan so that drenches available now remain effective for many years to come.

Concerns arising from the statistics on resistance of internal parasites on New Zealand sheep and beef farms contributed to the development of the “Wormwise” – the National Worm Management Strategy.

Sustainable management of worms is one of the many challenges farmers face. Each farm is different, so veterinarians and animal health advisors play an important role in the development of farm-specific animal health plans. These plans must be flexible, and be regularly revised as indicators of stock performance; and parasite signs and symptoms are monitored.

“Wormwise” – as part of National Worm Management Strategy – will provide current information to assist farmers in developing animal health plans that promote good animal welfare and production, while accommodating practices that help slow the development of drench resistance on their individual farms.

Animal welfare and productivity in the future will rely on the farm plans that are developed today to control the emergence of drench resistance on farms. Drenches are significant tools that are available to farmers to manage worms on their farms and they are a resource that needs to be used wisely.

Wormwise National Worm Management Strategy

By Christine Ford, September 2006 The sheep and beef industries have recently launched the Wormwise National Worm Management Strategy in an effort to combat increasing levels of drench resistance in livestock.

A recent national survey of worm management practices and the prevalence of drench resistance on New Zealand farms, which was funded by Meat &Wool NZ, MAF Sustainable Farming Fund, and Schering-Plough Animal Health, indicated a growing incidence of drench resistance.

The national survey showed that two thirds of the sheep farms and 94% of the beef farms surveyed had worms resistant to one or more drenches, suggesting that farmers need to reassess their worm management practices.

The Wormwise strategy was developed in response to these observations and the call from farmers to be provided with quality, objective information. Farmers, veterinarians, animal health companies, researchers and industry bodies were involved in designing the strategy.

Little is currently known about the status of drench resistance within the dairy industry, but given the situation observed in the beef industry it is possible there is an unrecognized problem in dairy.

Systems of raising dairy heifers vary very little from those of intensive beef production.

The Wormwise strategy encourages farmers to develop an annual animal health plan for their farm in conjunction with their veterinarian or other advisor. Monitoring worm burdens through faecal egg counting is an important first step. Many of the principles advocated in Wormwise, such as knowing the status of drench resistance on your own farm and developing a plan for parasite management, are as relevant to the dairy industry as to the sheep and beef industries.

Initially a set of key principles for managing parasites has been developed, as part of a comprehensive three-year plan of activities, which also includes training for farmers and the people who advise them, and on-going research and development to fill knowledge gaps.

The Wormwise launch included a summary of the national survey results as well as the industry “agreed principles” for worm management. Further newsletters will be distributed to farmers in the coming months.

Wormwise is a joint initiative by Meat & Wool New Zealand, MAF Sustainable Farming Fund, Agcarm and the New Zealand Veterinary Association.

For further information, visit….