Over the past few winters, I have had some problems with Liver Fluke – specifically in the lambs that I have been over-wintering. I have spoken to my vet about this on numerous occasions, and this year I am increasing the regularity of my drenching from every 6 weeks, to every 4.
There are 2 reasons for this: the primary one being that I would like to reduce losses of ewe hoggs to an absolute minimum. Nearly all my losses in the past few years have been due to liver fluke, a parasite that is transferred via water snails in wet ground, that feed on the sheeps’ liver. The secondary reason is business-related. This year we have the Scottish Upland Sheep Support Scheme, which means I get paid around £73 for every female lamb from 2015 that I overwinter until 31 March 2016. As a result, I have kept a couple more females this year, so I want to keep on top of any fluke issues – and prevention is way way better than the cure. It’s better to cut out any liver damage before it happens.
With all this in mind, I have added an extra drenching in my usual rota. They were drenched in October when they were dipped and normally they wouldn’t get another one until nearer January, but last week I gathered them and drenched them all. Since dipping, they have all been out in the village park, so Bud and I went out to get them last Saturday (5th). The green area is the park, the red line is the route I use to walk the sheep, and the blue is their home for the next month.
We took a wee while to get them all gathered, it’s quite a big park with tough terrain, and the 40mph+ winds meant that Bud couldn’t hear all my commands! He still enjoyed himself.
Once in the fank, I separated my own lambs from everyone else’s and gave them their drench, along with a mineral drench.
After this, Bud and I walked them home.
That’s them now in towards the shore, in a 1 hectare field that has been empty since September. The hoggs will be here until the Christmas holidays, then I’ll take them closer to home and start training them to eat feed! January and February are the critical months for surviving the winter, so it’ll be make or break then!