Wednesday, 17 December 2014 16:32

Beware of dogs bearing unwelcome gifts

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Dose dogs for sheep measles or leave them at home. Dose dogs for sheep measles or leave them at home.

Now is the time for sheep farmers to start warning their Christmas visitors that dogs need to be dosed for sheep measles or be left behind says Dan Lynch, project manager of Ovis Management Ltd.

 The Christmas holidays are a period when throughout the country many farms play host to visitors or family members, many with dogs.

Unless farmers know the sheep measles treatment status of the dogs an unpleasant surprise might be waiting for them in a few months when lambs going to processing show up with infection.

Lynch says that while the national prevalence for the past season remained low at 0.66% in line with the previous season, significant infection levels among lambs from a small number of suppliers has resulted in meat inspection staff condemning stock at processing.

One line of lambs had 155 infected with eight condemned while another line had 120 infected and 16 condemned.

While many farms are dosing dogs monthly and farms are tightening their on-farm biosecurity, maintaining downward pressure on this parasite, the influx of external dogs over the holiday period is a significant risk, which must be addressed before dogs arrive on farm, says Lynch.

“Sheep measles’ eggs spread in the wind and can survive 4-6 months on pasture so ask about dogs being treated now,” stresses Lynch.

Reducing the risk

  • Require any visiting dogs to be treated at least 48 hours and no more than one month before coming onto a farm.
  • Ensure dogs cannot access dead sheep or offal holes. 
  • Cook or freeze any sheep or goat meat fed to dogs. (Freeze -10c for 10 days).
  • Have a supply of alternative dog foods.
  • Keep dogs under control at all times.

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