Practical measures to combat parasitic worms in sheep flocks were top of the agenda at a workshop held in Welshpool Livestock Market at the end of November.

Funded by Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC) and Farming Connect, and delivered by Moredun Research Institute experts Dr Dave Bartley and Dr Beth Wells, the aim of the workshop was to encourage farmers to establish sustainable worm control programmes by using Worm Egg Counts (WECs).

Various parasitic roundworms are estimated to cost Welsh farmers around £23 million a year. Often, worms cause sub-clinical infections which lead sheep to perform under their potential, gaining weight more slowly and reducing the quantity of their meat and wool.

In the Welshpool workshop, farmers, vets and others took part in a hands-on demonstration on how to conduct WEC tests, which can help identify whether a roundworm is present, and what type of treatment might be most effective.

Farmers are currently taking part in a survey organised by the Europe-wide research collaboration Combatting Anthelmintic Resistance in Ruminants (COMBAR) on roundworm control strategies.

HCC’s Flock and Herd Health Executive, Dr Rebekah Stuart, urged Welsh sheep farmers to take the COMBAR survey to help gather data, and emphasised the importance of sustainable parasite control for the industry.

“Workshops such as this one in Welshpool really bring it home to people that there are effective tests available which help farmers to give appropriate and timely treatments to their flocks,” said Rebekah.

She added: “It’s vital that the industry takes this on board for two reasons. The cost of roundworm infections to farmers is a significant burden on the sheep sector. Equally importantly, accurate diagnosis enables the correct type of treatment to be used, which is vital when we consider the long-term issue of resistance to treatments and sustainable worm control.

“For that reason I would urge farmers to take 20 minutes to fill in the COMBAR survey online. Wales forms a significant part of the European sheep industry, and this research is important in assessing future policy in this area,” said Rebekah.

The survey is available at

The results of previous research on worms and anthelmintic resistance are available on the ‘Industry Resources’ section of the HCC website: