Friday, 12 April 2024 07:55

App trial yields promising results

Written by  Staff Reporters
Trial results showed there was a reduction of up to 57% in drench use without any negative effects on the productivity of winter lambs. Trial results showed there was a reduction of up to 57% in drench use without any negative effects on the productivity of winter lambs.

An initial trial of an app, funded by Beef + Lamb New Zealand, has demonstrated significant results in reducing drench inputs during a small-scale study.

The trial showed that there was a reduction of up to 57% in drench use without any negative effects on the productivity of winter lambs.

The Smartworm mobile phone app, used with an eID tag, leverages liveweight gain and other farm-related information to identify animals in real time that are most likely to require a dose of drnech. This concept is called targeted selective treatment (TST).

The benefits of TST include:

Reduced selection intensity to limite the development of drench resistant worms.

This is critical as a technique for sustainable internal parasite management as it reduces the percentage of a worm population exposed to drench at regular intervals.

Reduced total drench used.

This leads to reduced savings in animal health bills and labour associated with drenching and unnecessary treatment of animals.

Potential net savings of $0.59 per lamb by utilising the app in this trial.

The B+LNZ Research team worked with Dave Warburton, Vet Services Hawke's Bay and Andrew Greer, Lincoln University, to carry out the trial on two properties in Hawke's Bay and one in the Wairarapa.

The trial, which ran for three months from mid-May to mid-August 2023, included 114 animals across the three farms.

The study revealed reduced drench usage ranging from 37% to 57% over the trial period, with only a marginal impact on liveweigh gain. The TST group, guided by the app, averaged 327 grams lighter in liveweight at the end of the 90-day trial.

At each property, lambs were categorised into a control group receiving regular treatment every 28-30 days ("blanket treatment") and a TST group where the app determined which animals needed drenching at each interval ("TST treat" or "TST don't treat").

Faecal samples were collected during weighing intervals for faecal egg counts (FEC), complementing the app and increasing confidence in identifying the number of untreated animals.

The findings suggest that the Smartworm app holds significant promise for New Zealand farmers in reducing drenching inputs for lambs.

"We know times are tough on farm right now, so it is more important than ever that we focus on research into practical on-farm solutions to improve profitability for farmers," says Dan Brier, general manager - farming excellence, B+LNZ,

"While it is still early days, the inital trial shows that the Smartworm app is shaping up to be a great example of a tool that could be used to work smarter when making decisions around frequency of drenching."

He believes the app could help farmers reduce the amount of drench they are using without compromising on animal health, saving them money.

Mark Guscott, a farmer in the trial, says once they got past the startup tech issues it worked well.

"The app was straightforward to use. The final data showed only about half the lambs needed drenching so that to me is quite exciting as we're trying to use less drench overall as part of our future plans. This app looks like it could be part of that future."

Meanwhile another farmer in the trial Andrew Greer says relying on the constant development of new anthelmintics put the future viability of any farm at risk.

"This trial demonstrates that farmers do not need to treat all animals all the time, leading to a substantial improvement in drench sustainability."

B+LNZ are now funding a second stage of this project, trailing the app on an increased number of farms, including in the South Island, from February to May 2024.

This second stage aims to understand how or if TST can be confidently used in areas with barber's pole and evaluate any further improvements to the app.

About the App

The Smartworm app was developed in Ireland by Cotter Agritech based on TST research carried out by Andrew Greer from Lincoln University and Fiona Kenyon from Moredon Research Institute who pioneered TST.

Farmers interested in using Smartworm, can contact Cotter Agritech directly for a subscription price at www.smartworm.nz or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

 

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