Blowfly strike remains the most significant external parasite challenge impacting the Irish sheep industry. The risk of attack increases during warm, humid conditions. However, changing climate patterns in the UK and Ireland have meant the blowfly season is becoming harder to predict as to when it starts and finishes, according to animal health company, Elanco
Elanco says that the demand for an effective management response from farmers can now be met by using its product, Clik Extra. The company says prevention is the most effective form of control where blowfly strike is concerned. Clik Extra contains dicyclanil, an insect growth regulator that works by stopping fly larval development between the first and second larval stages, before the larvae have developed damaging mouthparts. This, effectively, breaks the fly lifecycle, according to Elanco. Moreover, the company claims that the concentration of dicyclanil is such that Clik Extra provides 19 weeks protection for treated lambs and ewes. Elanco advises that its ‘Fleecebind’ technology ensures the active ingredient in Clik Extra spreads from the tip to the base of the fleece, around the animal and onto new wool growth. In addition, it binds the formulation strongly in place and sticks to the wool even if applied to damp fleece. As a result, it provides full fleece protection. Ollie Ryan is a director of Tullamore-based Midland Veterinary Ltd.
“Clik Extra has broken new ground in delivering seasonlong protection against flystrike, courtesy of one application,” he said. Co Tipperary sheep producer Robert Dempsey runs a mixed suckler beef, sheep and tillage enterprise. “We shear the ewes at the end of May, at which time the lambs are treated for blowfly,” said Robert. “We treat all the ewes on the farm at the end of June. Our aim is to start drafting finished lambs for sale before the end of July. “Maintaining the highest possible growth rates with the lambs is crucial to the success of the sheep enterprise. The last thing we need, in this regard, is a problem with maggots. Thankfully, this has never been the case over the past number of years.”
Like many other Irish sheep producers, Robert is very conscious of the fact that last summer’s wet conditions were very conducive to blowfly attack.
“I was extremely happy with the performance that we achieved from Clik Extra last year,” he said. “Once we get into the late summer period, the cereal harvest takes precedence. I don’t need the extra workload of treating and checking lambs for maggots at that time of the year. Effective prevention is the only way of keeping blowfly problems at bay. An infestation of maggots will easily kill a growing lamb and severely impact on the body condition of a breeding ewe.” Co Meath flock owner, Hugh Doyle, said: “Flystrike will almost certainly kill lambs at the height of the summer. On most occasions, the shock associated with the actual treatment of clinical cases will be too much for the young animals affected. This is why flystrike prevention is so important.
Where blowfly control is concerned, Hugh used Clik up to last year, when he switched to Clik Extra. “The new product represents a very welcome innovation,” he said. “It allowed me to treat the lambs that little bit earlier in the season. The longer-acting impact of the product also gave me total peace of mind that the lambs would be totally protected throughout the grazing season. “We mark each lamb that is treated on the shoulder. It is crucially important to ensure the product is applied properly. It’s worth taking the time to ensure this is achieved. “The last thing I need is a breakdown associated with flystrike during the summer period. There’s just too much else going on at the farm at that time of the year. Blowfly remains a serious threat to Irish sheep flocks. Every step must be taken to prevent it from becoming a problem. And it is against this backdrop that Clik Extra has a key role to play. It gives season-long protection of lambs.”