With the weather finally getting warmer farmers need to start blowfly preparations to avoid getting caught out.

Richard Wall, Professor of Zoology at University of Bristol and a specialist in ectoparasites, said:

“Although the cold spring has meant that the start of the blowfly strike season is likely to be slightly later this year, now that the weather is warming up we can anticipate seeing significant levels of blowfly threat as we move into May. Our recommendation to farmers is to avoid risking flock health and productivity by using an early season application of a preventative strike treatment to ewes.”

With spring finally underway and the threat of blowflies rising, a collaboration between Elanco Animal Health and NADIS (National Animal Disease Information Service) brings sheep farmers real time updates on blowfly risk and reported strike cases with expert advice to help alert farmers, vets and industry professionals.

The trackers include forecast and reported blowfly strike cases. The first tracker will be put together with information from Dr. Wall, based on detailed Met Office data and will provide a Parasite Forecast outlining the blowfly challenge facing sheep across the different UK regions. The interactive map produced by Elanco will highlight areas hit with blowfly strike in real time, to deliver the most comprehensive and immediate warning system.

The timing and severity of blowfly strike is strongly influenced by the weather. Spring temperatures are more variable and hard to predict, making it difficult to determine when to treat.

Fiona Hutchings, technical vet at Elanco said: “Delaying preventative treatment not only costs the farm but risks the welfare and productivity of the flock.

“The costs of inaction when it comes to blowfly strike far outweigh the costs of protection. With 99% of farmers having suffered financial losses as a result of blowfly strike¹, the potential impact on your flock simply isn’t worth the risk. Farms need to take control, and take control early, by using a preventative IGR product with full fleece protection.”

Mrs Hutchings is clear that just monitoring symptoms is not an effective strategy. “By the time symptoms show themselves, it’s often too late. It’s easy to overlook even one affected sheep, and blowfly strike can cause huge damage in very little time. In addition, using a preventative product early reduces risk later in the season by ensuring a much lower fly count as the season progresses.”

“When farmers are looking at treatment options they need to look the longest protection with an IGR that binds to the fleece. It is now possible to get 19 weeks blowfly strike prevention.”

To report a case of blowfly strike on your farm and alert farmers in your area, go to farmanimalhealth.co.uk/tracker.