CIEL | News: Farmers invited to learn about overcoming worm resistance

Sheep farmers and industry professionals are invited to attend free events next month to discuss the results of a pilot study investigating the potential of introducing worm-tolerant genetics into flocks.

Infection with gastrointestinal roundworms causes significant disease in lambs, costing UK sheep farmers an estimated £42m every year in wormer treatments and productivity losses.

Cornwall sheep farmers, Matthew and Pippa Smith, have been working alongside CIEL (Centre for Innovation Excellence in Livestock), Moredun Research Institute, and Castle Veterinary Group on a Defra-funded project to tackle the problem of roundworm resistance by promoting worm-tolerant sheep.

Matthew Smith says being able to breed sheep which are tolerant to worms provides an exciting opportunity for sheep farmers in the fight against internal parasites.

“We’re grateful for the support from our partners in this farmer-led study, which provides hope for sheep farmers challenged by worm resistance,” he adds.

“The events in May taking place on our farm are an opportunity for farmers and wider industry professionals to discuss the results we have found with this pilot study.

“There will be discussion stations with vets, farmers, researchers and practical demonstrations throughout the day and we’re really excited to see what others make of this potential solution and provide us with feedback.”

Dr Mark Young, Head of Innovation at CIEL adds: “The pilot has identified an efficient system for identifying genetically superior, worm-tolerant sheep. The next step is to define a breeding strategy and to roll this out industry wide as quickly as possible.

“Selective breeding for worm-tolerant animals could help lead to improved growth rates while reducing anthelmintic use and associated labour needs, leading to increased financial returns.”

The events will take place at Trefranck Farm, Launceston, Cornwall, over two consecutive days – an Industry Awareness Day on Tuesday May 16 from 4pm to 7pm and a Farmer Awareness Day on Wednesday May 17 from 10am to 2pm.

More details, including how to register for the events, are available here.

Registrations must be made by Monday 1 May.

Worm resistance