2013-05-20   facebook twitter rss
New Online Tool In Battle Against Fly Strike

As temperatures begin to rise and blowflies become more of a nuisance to sheep, the National Sheep Association (NSA) urges farmers throughout the UK to use a new online tool to keep abreast of the regions affected and report any problems on their own farms.

The new website – www.flystrikealert.co.uk – is a simple map of the UK that shows when and where blowfly strike has occurred. The information is generated solely by farmers and so NSA says it is vital for all sheep producers to input their own experiences. All information is anonymous, as users are asked to input the first four digits of their postcode, but this information is not published, nor any farm names or exact locations revealed.


Phil Stocker, NSA Chief Executive, says: “If this new tool is used widely enough it will provide an excellent ‘early warning service’ to help farmers decide when to treat sheep to protect them from fly strike. Prevention is always better than cure and with changing weather patterns disrupting age-old date-based predictions, we need a tool like this to help producers be more reactive.

“If sheep keepers check the site regularly there will be less chance of them being caught out by early/unexpected cases, or running out of protection when it is still needed. I also urge farmers who have not had to treat for fly strike before to check the website, as our unpredictable weather means problems are arising in areas that previously escaped them.”

The website has been created by Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) but is a UK-wide tool. It is fully supported by NSA.

John Vipond, Senior Sheep Specialist with SAC Consulting (part of SRUC), says: “If you compare this year’s weather so far to last year’s it makes a nonsense of any fixed-date prevention programmes. Convention wisdom says the fly strike season is 16 weeks, but I know someone who had lambs struck in April and another who was caught out unexpectedly in November – that’s double the expected time.

Mr Stocker concludes: “The success of this online tool relies on farmers participating and reporting incidents, so please do take a look at the website and get involved in this project. The quality of the information coming out will only ever be as good as that going in.”


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