Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Capsule rethink puts focus on planning

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Sheep farmers urged to think ahead given likely unavailability of drench capsules.
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A popular sheep drench capsule is likely to be unavailable this year, prompting a warning to farmers to start planning for alternative parasite management programmes.

Boehringer Ingelheim, the distributor of the Bionic Plus controlled release anthelmintic capsule, has said the adult sheep product will probably not be available for lambing in 2023.

“Farmers need to begin planning now,” said Dr Ginny Dodunski, veterinarian and manager of the Beef + Lamb NZ-funded Wormwise programme.

“There are plenty of farmers around New Zealand who get great ewe performance and excellent lamb weaning weights without the use of any pre-lamb worm treatment for ewes – but the key is ewe body condition and feed planning. 

“Getting this right for lambing starts the day you wean.”

Last year, issues with the Bionic Plus Hogget capsule saw the product recalled, and an extended meat withholding period applied to sheep already treated with the capsule. While investigations are continuing, it appears the capsules were not releasing product at the correct rate.

Boehringer has advised vets that out of an abundance of caution, it is “highly unlikely” that either capsule will be available in 2023.

Dodunski said other long-acting products are available, but this could provide an opportunity for farmers to look at a “reset” of their breeding flock management.

“We know from previous trial work that the factor that comes closest to explaining why some farms see big responses to capsules is feed on offer at lambing.

“This is something that every farmer has some control over. It’s a mix of lambing date, stocking rate, autumn and winter sales policies, grazing management and fertility.

“However, you can’t wake up on the 10th July and decide to increase the amount of grass on offer at lambing. This process starts now and relies on hitting appropriate pre-winter feed targets and then managing that feed through to have good covers to set stock multiple ewes onto.”

Farmers who would like training in any aspect of feed planning, body condition management and sustainable drench use are encouraged to contact their local B+LNZ extension manager for workshops in their area. 

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