Duck hunt­ing – dan­ger time for sheep farms

Central Otago Mirror - - FRONT PAGE -

It’s that time of the year when sheep farm­ers ‘‘on-farm’’ con­trol of sheep measles gets tested’’ says Dan Lynch Project Man­ager of Ovis Man­age­ment Ltd, the meat in­dus­try group tasked with ed­u­ca­tion and aware­ness around sheep measles. ‘‘Each May across the coun­try hun­dreds if not thou­sands of dogs are taken on to farms for duck shoot­ing. The weeks lead­ing up to open­ing day should be used by sheep farm­ers to get on the front foot by re­quir­ing all vis­it­ing dogs to be treated for sheep measles be­fore en­try’’. He com­mented that each year a num­ber of sheep farm­ers have their gen­eros­ity in let­ting duck hunters come onto their farm with their dogs come back to haunt them when they start to see sheep measles no­ti­fi­ca­tions show­ing up on their kill sheets.

Not only can sheep measles cysts in lambs and sheep re­sult in fi­nan­cial loss for the farm­ers, be­cause the ma­jor­ity of the cysts are deep in the meat they are dif­fi­cult to de­tect dur­ing pro­cess­ing. While an aes­thetic de­fect their pres­ence is un­ac­cept­able to con­sumers.

Dogs be­come in­fected with sheep measles by eat­ing sheep or goat meat con­tain­ing vi­able cysts. The cysts hatch in the dog’s in­tes­tine be­com­ing a tape­worm that around 35 days later is shed­ding hun­dreds of thou­sands of eggs when the dog defe­cates. The eggs on the pas­ture can sur­vive for up to six months and can spread over a large area. And, the eggs when eaten by sheep de­velop into cysts deep in mus­cle tis­sue where af­ter three or more months they die and be­come cal­ci­fied.

Be­cause dogs can still be shed­ding eggs up to 48 hours af­ter treat­ment it is im­por­tant to make sure that all vis­it­ing dogs are treated for sheep measles at least two days be­fore en­try ‘‘It’s too late to treat dogs when they turn up at the front gate and that mes­sage needs to be passed on to dog own­ers when mak­ing ar­range­ments’’.

Dog own­ers have a choice of drugs for treat­ing their dogs avail­able from their lo­cal vet or, in some cases, ru­ral sup­ply stores rang­ing from all wormer drugs to cheaper straight praz­i­quan­tel tablets. Lynch said the preva­lence of sheep measles de­tected in pro­cess­ing plants con­tin­ues to be low with last sea­son’s preva­lence at 0.62% com­pared to 0.67% the pre­vi­ous year. While that is good the ex­tremely high re­pro­duc­tive rate of this par­a­site means any less­en­ing of con­trol will quickly re­sult in an in­crease in preva­lence lev­els with as­so­ci­ated costs to farm­ers. Key Points All dogs should be treated with praz­i­quan­tel at least 48 hours be­fore go­ing on or near sheep pas­ture.

Dogs should only be fed frozen or cooked sheep or goat meat.

For more in­for­ma­tion, visit sheep­

Dan Lynch Project Man­ager 06 354 0451

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