Biosecurity and Roundworm Advice for Cattle Enterprises (BRACE)

Project Details


Roundworms are ubiquitous in UK cattle industry and are of growing concern for livestock producers and policy makers due to the impact they have on productivity and the environmental impacts of livestock and associated treatments (e.g. biodiversity loss and Green House Gas emissions). In the UK there are only a few compounds (benzimidazoles (BZ), levamisoles and macrocyclic lactones (ML)) to control these pathogens and resistance (anthelmintic resistance (AR)) prevalence is increasing. ML resistance is commonly reported in the UK, and the first case of BZ resistance (BZ-r) was recorded recently. Little is currently known about the current BZ-r prevalence in UK cattle roundworms. One very effective, but commonly overlooked, control strategy is appropriate quarantine/biosecurity. Ensuring appropriate measures are taken to keep pathogens out of herds or limit the spread of disease through effective biosecurity/disease management is essential for increasing the lifespan of the available anthelmintics. Previous questionnaire work highlighted that only half of the respondents administer any quarantine treatments to newly purchased stock. To improve uptake of biosecurity recommendations, we must first explore the role of cattle trade (due to its potential importance) in the dissemination of roundworms and the potential risk of introducing AR. By developing tools for studying the prevalence and development of AR in cattle roundworms, and understanding the factors that influence adoption of best practice recommendations, including attitudinal, cultural and practical barriers to adoption we can inform the design of robust, evidence-backed and most importantly, producer acceptable, control advice.

Engagement with farmers and other stakeholders, will aid in scenario setting for mechanistic transmission model simulations and subsequently the development of tailored knowledge exchange tools. Dissemination of outputs is central to this project as all work packages inform the development of knowledge exchange tools for effective communication of sustainable roundworm control and biosecurity recommendations. Stakeholder engagement will be a priority to maximise uptake of best practice guidance on commercial farms. Understanding factors which influence farmers' adoption intention will benefit communication between researchers and stakeholders beyond this project.

The project will bring together a multi- and inter-disciplinary team to combine and integrate state-of the art molecular parasitology, social science and mathematical modelling methodologies to:

-Quantify the risk of roundworms/resistance: Characterize roundworm infections in cattle sold at auction using sequencing technologies to study the prevalence and emergence/progression of BZ-r in UK herds

-Explore potential impact/outcome: Parameterise, develop, and apply a mechanistic model to simulate a) the impact of best/current practices on roundworms and resistance transmission by tracking the potential fate of roundworms being introduced on farm in order to explore the role of animal movement in the dissemination of anthelmintic resistance and b) generate visual outputs for stakeholder meetings and events to highlight potential outcomes of particular practices. Model scenarios will be influenced by the parasitology findings and workshops/discussion groups being held at three sites across the UK.

-Understand practices and attitudes: Conduct qualitative and quantitative studies to explore producers' attitudes and coping strategies towards, perceived risks & uptake of current advice on biosecurity and sustainable roundworm management for cattle farmers.

-Communicate Results: Develop a range effective knowledge exchange tools and materials (including a virtual visual tour) that will provide a lasting resource in a novel format to help engage a wider audience, both visual and interactive methods have been shown to be the preferred method for farmers to learn.

Technical Summary

Gastrointestinal nematode (GIN) infections in both dairy and beef cattle can cause significant health issues and production losses. The aim of this project is to inform intervention strategies using modelling linked to farmer perceptions of roundworm parasites of cattle based on an improved understanding of anthelmintic resistance (AR) prevalence and animal movements, biosecurity measures and changing parasite survival on pasture and farmers attitudes. Deep amplicon sequencing technologies will, for the first time in the UK, combine markers of benzimidazole resistance (beta-tubulin gene) and species (ITS-2) to improve the diagnostic and epidemiological resolution from parasite material derived from cattle from across the UK. Genetic diversity will be assessed using the sequence data generated and analysis of the AR-conferring regions of the genome will be used to study the origin and spread of resistance alleles to feed in to a mechanistic model and assess the effects of animal movement has on the dissemination of AR. Additional modelling studies will address the impact of current and future climatic conditions on GIN survival and therefore effective refugia and will seek to future-proof any new management strategies.

Model scenarios will be influenced by the parasitological findings as well as workshops/discussion groups to be held at three sites across the UK. The workshops will explore farmers attitudes towards GIN control practices and current and future biosecurity measures / requirements. The knowledge exchange module will be bidirectional with workshops allowing farmers to help co-construct research questions whilst model outputs and real life parasitological data will provide information for discussion. The use of a mobile lab will add additional support to allow farmers to better understand parasites and how control measures and changing climate can impact on possible disease in their animals.
Short titleBiosecurity and Roundworm Advice for Cattle Enterprises
Effective start/end date1/01/2315/01/26

UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This project contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action

ASJC Scopus Subject Areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology


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