Gastrointestinal nematode control practices in ewes: Identification of factors associated with application of control methods known to influence anthelmintic resistance development

Eiry Williams, Peter Brophy, Hefin Wyn Williams, Nia Davies, Rhys Jones

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Gastrointestinal nematodes (GIN) negatively impact productivity and welfare in sheep globally and are estimated to cost the European sheep industry €157–477 million annually. GIN are mainly controlled by anthelmintic treatment, however, as anthelmintic resistance becomes prominent, the routine treatment of ewes against GIN has been questioned. A questionnaire survey of 383 sheep farmers in Great Britain was conducted to identify strategies currently used to control GIN infections in ewes. Ordinal and binary regression analysis were used to identify factors associated with use of practices known to influence anthelmintic resistance development, including number and timing of ewe GIN anthelmintic treatment, targeted selective treatment (TST) of ewes, drench and move of ewes and long-acting moxidectin treatment of periparturient ewes. Participating farmers treated their ewes against GIN 1.68 times per year on average, with 42.3% and 32.1% of participating farmers worming their ewes once or twice a year on average, respectively. 17.2% of participating farmers wormed their ewes more than twice a year, and 8.4% never worm their ewes. Participating farmers who devised GIN control strategies based on SCOPS guidelines treated their ewes significantly less per year (P < 0.001), whilst those determining treatment timing based on ewe DAG scores or the time of year treated their ewes significantly more frequently (P < 0.001). Farmers who devised GIN control strategies in conjunction with their vet had greater odds of using TST (P < 0.001), as well as farmers who determined flock treatment timing based on ewe condition (P = 0.027). The use of narrow spectrum flukicides was significantly associated with reduced number of annual ewe GIN anthelmintic treatments (P < 0.001), TST of ewes against GIN (P < 0.001) and the avoidance of moving ewes to clean pastures following GIN treatment (P < 0.001). The presence of sheep scab on a farm or in the area was significantly associated with increased annual GIN treatments for ewes (P = 0.002), not using TST strategies to control GIN in ewes (P < 0.001) and moving ewes to clean pasture after anthelmintic treatment, whilst using macrocyclic lactones treatments to prevent sheep scab was significantly associated with the treatment of periparturient ewes with long-acting moxidectin (P = 0.001). This research suggests that by encouraging the application of evidence based targeted or targeted selective treatment strategies, further interaction between farmers and veterinarians/SCOPS guidance, and the uptake of best practices for controlling liver fluke and sheep scab on farms, sustainable GIN control strategies can become the common practice in ewes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100562
JournalVeterinary Parasitology: Regional Studies and Reports
Early online date31 Mar 2021
Publication statusPublished - 01 Apr 2021


  • Anthelmintic resistance
  • Gastrointestinal nematodes
  • Periparturient ewes
  • Sheep
  • Targeted selective treatment


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