Helping farmers keep friskier flocks

Keeping sheep healthy matters to us. It means we can improve animal welfare while ensuring the quality of our lamb. That’s why we helped fund a project to let farmers test for worms in sheep.

Sheep and lambs grazing

Worms in flocks can be a big problem for sheep farmers. When sheep have worms, they can lose their appetite – and so their weight – and also suffer from coughs.

That’s bad for sheep, and it’s also a challenge for farmers – because of the time taken to test for the parasite.

Farmers often have to send off samples and wait for results before they can even decide how to treat flocks.

That matters because farmers use ‘wormers’ to prevent or cure worms – but the worms can be resistant to these treatments. To avoid over-using wormers and making resistance worse, farmers need a quick way of knowing whether their sheep have worms or not.

A quicker test for worms

To help tackle these problems, Sainsbury’s has helped fund a system which aims to help farmers test for worms themselves reliably, on farms – saving time and helping them treat flocks earlier.

The technology, known as FECPAK, aims to help farmers make quick and reliable decisions about worms in their flocks – by counting worm eggs in sheep droppings.

The idea is to help farmers target their use of wormers, only using them when they need to. All in all, it’s a more sustainable way of doing things.

Our success so far

With the help of farmers in our Lamb Development Group, this project trialled more than 30 FECPAK units – with farmers conducting more than 900 tests.

“This project will be of real value to UK sheep farmers.”

Phil Stocker
National Sheep Association chief executive

The project has helped farmers to diagnose and treat worms in flocks. It has identified a number of farms where treatment wasn’t working – and we’ve been able to help farmers improve how they manage worms.