UK study shows NZ-designed tool improves animal health and reduces farm costs

Sheep standing in field

Leading UK supermarket chain Sainsbury’s has released research which proves using New Zealand business Techion’s image based faecal egg count (FEC) technology for parasite management improves animal health, reduces farming costs and assists farmers to meet changing consumer demands.  

The results of the Sainsbury’s-funded research and development (R&D) project undertaken in association with Sainsbury’s New Zealand processor, Alliance and AFFCO were presented at National Sheep Association (NSA) Sheep Event 2018 in Worcestershire on Wednesday 18 July 2018. The study proved that more targeted use of drenches not only improves animal performance by increasing lamb growth rates, but it also reduces farm costs and supports sustainable drenching practices.

Sainsbury’s chose FECPAKG2 because it is easy to use, gives quick results and allows farmers to build more effective animal health programmes based on data and expertise. FECPAKG2 allows testing to be carried out virtually anywhere by anyone, including on-farm by the farmer.

Sainsbury’s agricultural manager for lamb, John Brocklehurst, said the results showed undetected drench resistance in sheep could be costing Sainsbury’s lamb producers over £10 million per year. Eighty four percent of UK farmers involved in the research were revealed as using ineffective drenches, while the number was 37 percent for New Zealand farmers. In New Zealand, this meant an average loss of $74,974 annually for sheep farmers in the study.

John Brocklehurst explained the adoption of new technology such as FECPAKG2 was critical in delivering a productive and sustainable lamb supply chain.

“We’ve invested in research and development that matters to our farmers and more accurate control of worm burdens is an area where clear gains can be achieved. The use of innovative technology offers increased lamb output and improved animal health and welfare alongside cost savings and is a win-win for producers and consumers alike.”

“Technology that also offers a positive food story on drench use reduction – this is what our customers want to hear,” he said.

Techion’s founder and chief executive Greg Mirams welcomed the results. He says the company had been evolving the online technology since 2013 to ensure it was not only reliable but also simple to use.

He highlighted that the research showed use of FECPAKG2 made it possible to reduce drench use on some properties by 30-50 percent without compromising animal performance.

“Using FECPAKG2 to enable appropriate drench timing can improve sheep performance and health, while saving money, which is of great benefit for farmers in every country. Farming is increasing complex, with farmers facing rising costs at the same time as consumers are demanding more transparency in meat production. We are pleased that FECPAKG2 has been proven, thus showing farmers it’s an effective tool to reduce costs and inputs and improve animal health in this challenging environment.”

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