Friday, 15 October 2021 10:13

Plan to manage parasite resistance to drenches

Written by  Staff Reporters
Beef+Lamb New Zealand general manager farming excellence Dan Brier. Beef+Lamb New Zealand general manager farming excellence Dan Brier.

A new action plan designed to help manage parasite resistance to drenches in New Zealand has been launched.

Encouraging the responsible marketing and sales of drench, more accurate and easier parasite testing, research to demonstrate the costs and benefits of various parasite management approaches and better training and development are among the new priorities in the new Wormwise Action Plan.

Stronger engagement with farmers, more resources and a national survey to determine the size of the problem also feature in the new blueprint.

Wormwise is a partnership between Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ), the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), Agcarm, the New Zealand Veterinary Association (NZVA) and other stakeholders.

The development of the action plan follows an independent review of the Wormwise strategy carried out with industry input including farmers, veterinarians, drench sellers, MPI, B+LNZ, DairyNZ and Fonterra.

“Sheep and beef farmers rank resistance of parasites to drench as their single biggest animal production challenge,” says Dan Brier, general manager farming excellence at B+LNZ.

“Parasite resistance to drenches is now widespread, appears to be getting worse and a new approach is necessary. We simply can’t drench our way out of drench resistance.

“Unfortunately, New Zealand also faces new challenges including potential increased risk from new or more widespread parasites arising from climate change, the low likelihood of new drench products becoming available, and greater transparency demanded by consumers on animal welfare and the use of chemicals in farm production systems.”

Although Wormwise has built good information for farmers and veterinarians via website or workshops, the strategic review revealed there is a gap between the advice available and what is happening on the ground, says Brier.

Dr Helen Beattie, chief veterinary officer at NZVA, says vets are an important part of the solution through working with farmers, developing parasite management plans and providing veterinary advice.

“Through the review, we found the efforts of Wormwise and the strategic direction were largely in the right direction, but concluded there is scope to do much more. Ultimately, additional resourcing and a different approach is required if we are to genuinely influence parasite drench resistance in time.”

As part of the new action plan, the industry will identify best practice for working with farmers on parasite management and drench resistance in order to help other farmers.

The industry will also work with drench manufacturers to ensure products are marketed responsibly and robust education and training is available for those selling drenches.

Research to demonstrate the costs and benefits of parasite management approaches based on actual farm experience, across several farm types, species and regions, and providing a benchmark for high/low performance will be rolled out.

This could include using emerging tools such as farm planning and farm assurance schemes to incentivise and/or monitor performance.

Brier says the industry recognised the limitations and complications of faecal egg count (FEC) tests.

“Tests that are easier for farmers to use, cost-effective and more accurate are needed. Ideally, data collected from increased testing would be able to be captured and aggregated to provide monitoring capability.”

Beattie says better training and education is also a key part of the action plan.

“Wormwise materials will be integrated into relevant sectoral formal and informal training, education and professional development channels such as veterinary, agricultural science, animal breeding, farm management and biosecurity. Quality advice and use is key to preserving effective drenches in Aotearoa New Zealand.”

A survey to establish the current situation and provide data for modelling and create a baseline against which progress can be tracked will be launched.

Key stakeholders have been asked to provide feedback on the new Action Plan including identifying parts of the programme they want to actively be involved in by the end of 2021.

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