Investigating the perceived versus actual gastrointestinal nematode challenge on extensive sheep farms

Eilidh Geddes*, C Morgan-Davies, A McLaren, Philip Skuce, Jade Duncan, Neil Sargison, Fiona Kenyon

*Corresponding author for this work

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Extensive farming systems form an integral part of sheep production systems across Europe. However, with innate production handicaps, declining sheep numbers and narrow economic margins, production is becoming increasingly challenging threatening the future sustainability of the industry. Gastrointestinal nematodes (GINs) are a significant cause of production losses to the global sheep industry, with well-established resistance to the major anthelmintic groups. Traditionally, extensive farming systems are not thought to have a significant parasite challenge compared with intensive farms, but there is a need to identify the scale and importance of GINs on extensive farms to inform the need for sustainable control strategies. In this study, a questionnaire of extensive farmers (n=34) was conducted and parasitological data were collected from nine study farms to investigate the perceived versus actual GIN and anthelmintic resistance challenge faced by extensive farms. The results showed a production-limiting challenge on most farms, with a higher GIN challenge observed on improved pastures. Furthermore, over half of the extensive farmers perceived anthelmintic resistance to be a greater problem for intensive farmers, with only 20% of respondents reporting known anthelmintic resistance. However, all study farms had evidence of resistance to at least one group of anthelmintics. Consequently, this study has demonstrated that despite the traditional perception of parasitism on extensive farms, there is a need to increasingly consider its impact and take a proactive approach to sustainable control, with solutions tailored to their unique management.
Original languageEnglish
Article number 110148
JournalVeterinary Parasitology: X
Early online date11 Feb 2024
Publication statusPrint publication - Apr 2024

Bibliographical note

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  • Anthelmintic resistance
  • Extensive hill and upland farms
  • Gastrointestinal nematode
  • Nemabiome
  • Sheep


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