Are best practice principles of worm control being deployed at farm level?

Because of the increasing prevalence of drug resistant parasites, more sustainable approaches to worm control need to be deployed on farms to protect anthelmintic efficacy. These ‘best practice’ approaches include the appropriate application of dewormers and the use of evidence-based protocols involving diagnostics, to inform the need for anthelmintic treatments, alongside management practices designed to break the transmission cycle of the worms.

To find out about how the experiences of UK ruminant farmers relate to anthelmintic purchasing and the provision of best practice advice at the point-of-sale, researchers at the Moredun Research Institute and the University of Liverpool undertook a large online survey.

The survey explored farmer experiences in purchasing anthelmintics from the three UK animal medicines’ prescribers (veterinarians, Suitably Qualified Persons [SQPs] and veterinary pharmacists) and investigated farmer attitudes to anthelmintic use and drug resistance in worms. The findings are published in Preventive Veterinary Medicine.

When grouped according to the route through which they purchased anthelmintics, those farmers who bought in face-to-face interactions were significantly more likely to state that they valued their prescriber’s knowledge of parasites/anthelmintics than those farmers that purchased anthelmintics via the telephone or internet.

Farmers that purchased online were significantly less likely to consider prescriber advice.

The study also examined how frequently different livestock farmers carried out testing for helminth infection and resistance to dewormers.

Generally, sheep farmers undertook FEC testing more than the cattle farmer respondents, but relatively few farmers stated they ever conducted anthelmintic sensitivity testing, with the majority of cattle farmers never having tested for dewormer efficacy. This was despite a high level of concern for anthelmintic resistance stated by all types of farmers.

The results suggest that UK farmers that bought anthelmintics from veterinarians were more likely to be exposed to diagnostic-led worm control advice, as currently recommended in the industry guidelines.

The researchers say that gaps in advice provision, particularly in relation to efficacy testing, have been identified in all farmer groups and these gaps now need to be addressed in training courses for all types of prescribers.

Article: A survey of experiences of UK cattle and sheep farmers with anthelmintic prescribers; Are best practice principles being deployed at farm level? by Stephanie Easton, Gina, L. Pinchbeck, David J. Bartley, Jane, E. Hodgkinson and Jacqueline B. Matthews, published in Preventive Veterinary Medicine (2018) vol. 155, pp. 27-37, doi: 10.1016/j.prevetmed.2018.04.009

[SOURCE: Moredun Research Institute]