The Borders and north Northumberland is suffering from a distinct lack of summer with the area receiving June’s average monthly rainfall within a matter of days.
Thousands of sheep are yet to be shorn, the silage is yet to be cut and of great concern is the health of farm animals that is being compromised by the continual wet.
John Macfarlane of Alnorthumbria Veterinary Group explained: “The weather has resulted in a resurgence in worm problems which are causing a serious problem, especially in lambs.
“The wet weather has a concertina effect – the farmers need dry weather for clipping the sheep and the combination of a full fleece, worm problems and warm weather is leading to fly strike. This is compounded by a noticeable increase in resistance to worm treatments being found on a number of farms.”
General management on the farm at this time of the year is crucial in preparing for the harsh extremities winter weather can bring. Currently people are unable to dry out the silage to produce winter forage so there are major concerns that farmers may end up short over this coming winter.
The recent torrential downpours saw significant flash flooding. Thankfully Alnorthumbria have not heard of any animals being drowned, but hundreds were not so lucky two years ago when the Till flooded causing extensive damage. Farmwork is being compressed and contractors are under heavy demand as where there is a sunny day there are far too many jobs to be done – clipping, silage and preparing forage.
Another effect of the long term wet weather may be Rumen Fluke in cattle. Earlier this year Alnorthumbria Vets identified this in cattle on one of their farms. After taking samples, they are now collaborating with Edinburgh Veterinary School and Morden Institute.
Rumen Fluke is a parasite that is ingested by the cattle grazing on previously waterlogged pastures.
John said: “The presenting signs are scour in late summer in young stock and we will be asking clients if we can check for this disease on their farms – this is an exotic disease that is found sporadically around the UK.”
The current weather poses a lot of challenges for farmer’s grassland management.
“Though last winter was kind to us until the beginning of lambing, and the grass has been growing, grazing conditions are proving very difficult. We can only hope that the weather through June and August sees some more sunshine hours and that the animal health problems being seen in the last few weeks decline,” concluded John.