Managing Foot Rot and Scald in Sheep discusses foot rot and scald in sheep, and outlines some of the steps farmers can take to mitigate the problem.

Foot ailments in sheep

It is a simple fact that if you keep sheep, you will have to deal with lameness on an annual basis. Sheep, and particularly some of the terminal breeds, are notoriously prone to debilitating hoof ailments. Foremost among these are scald and foot rot. Both tend to proliferate in wet, warm conditions so sheep farmers should be vigilant at the moment. While I haven’t encountered any hoof issues on our farm this autumn, I have heard several farmers complaining of a major outbreak of either scald or foot rot.

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Increased rainfall raises fluke threat discusses the danger of fluke on Irish farms as the weather turns wet.

Perfect conditions for parasites

Last week we discussed how the present turn of warm, wet weather is providing ideal breeding conditions for the blowfly. As farmers, we need to be aware that this autumnal humidity offers up more than one threat. A range of parasites are likely to thrive in current weather conditions. Among these, few are a bigger threat than the liver fluke.

For the time being, ground has held up well in all but the spongiest, boggiest land; but if current rainfall continues much longer, we will start to see surface water in places. With temperatures set to remain in the mid to high teens for the foreseeable, we can expect a serious escalation in grass fluke levels in the coming weeks. Naturally, we as farmers want to take every possible precaution to protect livestock from a bad bout of fluke. A serious fluke problem is uncomfortable for animals and a potential catastrophe for farm revenue.

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Summer is over, but the threat of maggots remains talks the threat of autumn blowfly strike and maggots, and discusses some of the best solutions for managing this scourge over the coming weeks.

Autumn comes in wet and warm

Summer may be over, but for sheep farmers the threat of maggots has not gone away. If anything, the danger has increased in recent days. September has delivered the kind of warm, murky conditions in which the blowfly thrives. Over the last week, we have had several days when the temperature was between 20 and 25 degrees, while heavy rain showers persist. This blast of damp heat means that sheep’s wool is wet and warm, providing the ideal situation for the fly to lay its eggs. To compound the danger, it is now a couple of months since most sheep farmers finished shearing, so wool is starting to get heavy again.

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The Red Mite: do you know your enemy? discusses red mite infestation and offers poultry farmers some advice on the best treatments for this common pest.

Knowing your enemy

The ancient Chinese general, Sun Tzu, reminds us that in order to defeat your enemy, you must understand him. That philosophy holds true in our efforts to overcome the pesky red mite that infests our poultry houses. In this week’s second blog entry, we want to discuss Dermanyssus gallinae, commonly known as the red mite, and consider what steps we can take to vanquish this great scourge of the poultry farmer.

The warm summer months have facilitated an explosion in mite numbers. At this time of year, the free-range poultry man or woman will notice fowl trying to kick sand or dry earth through their feathers. This is a sure sign that the bird is suffering from skin parasites, and the red mite is always one of the likeliest culprits.

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Poll result: vast majority of Irish farmers oppose wormer regulations

And the results are in! Here at, we asked farmers for their opinion about the Irish Government’s plan to introduce wormer regulations next January. The regulations, which take effect on 28 January 2022, will require farmers to obtain a veterinary prescription to access fluke and worm treatments. Our poll, which went live on this site on 30 July 2021, asked farmers the following question:

Do you support the Irish Government’s plan to introduce stricter regulations on the sale of animal medicines?

Of 104 poll participants, 87.5% oppose regulation, while 8.65% were in favour. A further 3.75% were undecided. The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine claims that the regulations are necessary to combat rising anthelminthic resistance on Irish farms.

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What price will we pay? The strong case against wormer regulation argues against the Government’s proposal to make animal medicines subject to veterinary prescription, and discusses the reasonable alternatives set forth by the Independent Licensed Merchants Association (ILMA).

One more thing to worry about?

It will kill scores of jobs in rural Ireland and change the course of Irish farming, but very few in farming circles are talking about the Government’s plan to impose strict new regulations on the sale of animal medicines next year. This lack of interest is surprising since these regulations, if introduced as planned, will have woeful financial consequences for small farmers.   

To be fair to Irish farmers, it’s easy to understand how this issue has escaped their notice. They’ve had a lot to contend with in the political arena over the last few years. Farmers are set to take a hit from the Government’s new Climate Bill, while the plan for an EU/Mercosur Trade Deal that would flood the European market with Brazilian beef is still alive. That said, with only 5 months to go before the new wormer regulations are imposed, we can’t ignore this issue anymore.

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Clostridial vaccination: have your lambs had their jabs yet?

Lamb Vaccination 001As summer gets underway, Agridirect offers farmers some advice on the prevention of clostridial diseases in sheep, and provides some information about the best vaccines available on the market. 

Here comes the sun!

Well folks, it seems fair to say that summer has arrived, and not before we had need of it. Last weekend saw highs of 21 or 22 degrees in some parts of the country. In northern and western counties, where growth has been abysmal until now, grass is finally on the move. As we move into June, we can almost smell the first cut of grass! Continue reading “Clostridial vaccination: have your lambs had their jabs yet?”

Gastrointestinal worms: how to manage them this summer

Worm treatments for cattleAgridirect offers some advice to farmers on treating gastrointestinal worms this summer.

Peak season on the horizon

As we head towards summer and temperatures begin to rise, farmers will be concerned about the risk of gastrointestinal worms. July is usually considered to be peak season for worms, but with June on the horizon it is not too early to keep an eye out for the first symptoms in your herd. While we generally hold the stomach worm to be an irritant for adult cattle, a bad case can be very dangerous for calves. Weanlings are particularly susceptible to the parasite, which lowers their overall health, and reduces their ability to resist other diseases. Continue reading “Gastrointestinal worms: how to manage them this summer”

Of Mites and Hen: getting to grips with red mite infestation

Red Mite Infestation 001Agridirect offers poultry keepers some advice on the management of red mite infestation.

That’s mitey weather!

Most of us welcomed the slight increase in temperatures this week. Granted, these murky conditions are not ideal, but they are an improvement on the rain, hail and frost we suffered at the start of May. For poultry keepers, though, these first signs of an upswing in temperature bring with them the risk of red mite infestation. May is traditionally the month that sees the most significant surge in red mite numbers, which usually remain high until the cold weather takes effect in the Autumn. Continue reading “Of Mites and Hen: getting to grips with red mite infestation”

The sheep farmer’s scourge – blowfly strike and how to prevent it

Blowfly Strike 001

Agridirect offers some advice on the prevention and treatment of blowfly strike in sheep.

There is an old saying that a wet and windy May fills the barn with corn and hay. If that’s the case, there’s hope for a summer at the end of what has been, so far, a dismal month. Two nights of frost at the beginning of the month, and windswept days of wintry showers, have stunted any growth we hoped to get over the last few days. And the forecast for the next week makes for grim reading. Temperatures in the low to mid teens, and heavy showers, are about all we can expect.

Still, the last few days have seen a rise in temperatures. While early May offered up daytime highs of 9 and 10 degrees, we now face the prospect of warm rain over the coming weeks. For sheep farmers, this amounts to a period of increased risk. There is no doubt that there has been an explosion in insect life on Irish farms as the colder conditions have, finally, started to make way. At times like these, we have to keep an eye out for the blowfly. Most of us will sharpen our shears in June, but it may be no harm to start thinking about the best preventative measures and treatments for maggots. Continue reading “The sheep farmer’s scourge – blowfly strike and how to prevent it”