West Otago sheep and beef farmer Todd Perkins regularly undertakes FECRT and FEC testing with his winter 2022 experience reinforcing the value of the practice.
“The cost of a FEC test is negligible and the information I received over winter saved massive amounts in lost production”, Todd explains. “It all comes back to production. FEC testing highlighted potentially contaminated pastures going forward and I was able to farm knowing this, keeping an eye on ewes so I could maintain good scan rates.”
Todd and his wife Amanda have farmed Junction Burn at Raes Junction for more than 20 years and this winter FEC testing showed them that pasture contamination was going to be an issue in spring and could impact lamb weight gain.
“We’ve always undertaken regular faecal egg count reduction tests (FECRT) testing so we know exactly which drenches work. However, this year we have learned that pasture contamination is an issue for us too .”
By conducting 14 tests over the four months between May and August the Perkins identified three unusual parasite burdens on their farm and one parasite hotspot where they were grazing hoggets on another property out of the district.
“In late autumn I noticed extra pressure on the stock and that made me want to keep an eye on them. I wouldn’t usually test ewes at that time of year, but they had been under pressure and I knew something wasn’t quite right.”
“What I learned with the FEC test was that the pastures would be contaminated going forward and that could be an issue later in the season”.
Armed with that knowledge, Todd was able to keep an eye on that specific pasture when the ram went out and he tested again. The dry autumn and mild winter meant there was good growth on the pastures so the ewes went back on for the second round of grazing, which again Todd monitored with a FEC test so he knew exactly when to drench.
As Todd explains, no farmer wants production loss. “While sometimes you think it takes time to test, what is your time worth? You need to ensure all your work is achieving production. Production is the most important reason for FEC testing…it all comes back to production.”