Sustainable farming initiative: Sheep and cattle roundworms

As part of Scottish Governments ‘Preparing for Sustainable Farming’ initiative, farmers can claim £250 for undertaking up to two animal health interventions per year in 2023 and 2024. Two important interventions which will receive funding (and could be claimed for separately on mixed units) are the control of roundworms in sheep and cattle.

Fulfilling the requirements of this intervention requires faecal egg count testing AND wormer efficacy testing if required. Testing can be done by vet practices or a laboratory like SRUC Vet Services. Currently the funding does NOT cover testing for lungworm (larvae or serological tests).

Lambs and calves are most at risk from roundworms and regular testing should be focused on young animals throughout the summer and autumn. Regular faecal sampling can be used to aid decision making around anthelmintic treatments and aids with assessing pasture contamination.
Unlike other strongyle parasites, diarrhoea is not seen with Haemonchus contortus infection and adult sheep remain susceptible to this parasite. The funding would also cover diagnosis and treatment efficacy testing on farms where Haemonchus infection is suspected.

For a bulk faecal worm egg count (FEC), 10 fresh samples should be collected with a minimum of 3g per animal. Accurate scales should be used to pool samples or SRUC can pool samples after submission.

If the FEC result indicates there is no need for anthelmintic treatment, then the farmer should take advice from the vet on when next to test. If testing indicates a significant worm burden and anthelmintic treatment is required, then product efficacy testing should also be carried out. This can be investigated by either a drench test or a faecal egg count reduction test (FECRT). These are more useful tests to do in the summer and autumn, as later season counts may be higher and Nematodirus battus eggs feature less.

A reminder of when to repeat test after anthelmintics:

  • White drench (benzimadazoles) 10-14 days
  • Yellow drench (levamisole) 7 days
  • Clear drench (macrocytic lactones) 14-16 days
  • Moxidectin 17-21 days
  • Orange drench (amino-acetonitrile) 14 days

SCOPS contains a wealth of further information if required. Full guidance regarding the PSF funding can be found at: Preparing for Sustainable Farming full guidance (

Posted by SRUC Veterinary Services on 28/06/2023

Tags: Livestock parasites
Categories: Cattle | Sheep