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APHA’s Centre of Expertise in Extensively Managed Livestock

About the Centre of Expertise

The Centre of Expertise for surveillance in extensively managed livestock (CoEEML) is based at APHA Carmarthen Veterinary Investigation Centre (VIC). Whilst based in Wales, the Centre is a Great Britain-wide resource and forms part of the wider veterinary surveillance system operated by APHA.

What are extensively managed livestock?

Extensively-managed animals are those that are kept in such a way that they are not easily regularly and closely inspected, for signs of ill health, or significantly altered production.

The definition was determined at a meeting of APHA, Defra and Welsh Government, with extensively managed cattle and sheep being the primary focus. Examples of extensively managed livestock include animals that are kept on common land, uplands, mountains or moors.

Aims of the Centre of Expertise

The aims of the Centre of Expertise are to:

  • Develop engagement with keepers of extensively managed livestock in order to promote disease surveillance activities and improve collection of surveillance data and information on extensively managed livestock
  • Develop communication and information sharing with farmers and vets, to promote healthy livestock, productivity and sustainable farming in extensive systems
  • Develop a virtual hub of expertise in surveillance in extensively managed livestock to complement the Species Expert Groups

Contact the Centre

For further information please contact your local Veterinary Investigation Centre and speak to the CoEEML representative vet within the centre:

Centre Contact name Contact number
Carmarthen Caroline Fenemore and Kitty Robinson 03000 600016
Penrith Elizabeth Dunnett 03000 600012
Shrewsbury Moyna Richey 03000 600023
Starcross Harriet McFadzean 03000 600020
Thirsk Alan Murphy 03000 600098

Current Projects

Free sheep scab testing is now available in Wales all year round

Examination of skin scrape samples from sheep on Welsh farms showing suspect clinical signs of sheep scab is now being offered free of charge all year round.

The scheme, supported by Welsh Government, will encourage the diagnosis of sheep scab, which is a prerequisite for the appropriate treatment and successful control of this disease.

Skin scrape samples will be received in the normal way, via a veterinary surgeon and should be posted direct to APHA Carmarthen VIC, where testing will be undertaken. An epidemiological questionnaire is no longer required to be completed to qualify for free testing, however please ensure samples are accompanied by a fully completed submission form / ADTS submission including a full clinical history and any relevant treatment history.

Further information can be found here (English/Welsh)

Tick borne disease testing in cattle

APHA are already aware of cases of tick-borne disease in cattle and sheep this year, which is not unexpected given the warm weather we have been experiencing recently. The 2021 bovine babesiosis project has finished and findings are currently being collated, but we are still interested to hear about cases of tick-borne disease in cattle throughout the 2022 grazing season.

This year free testing using the dual pan-piroplasm/A. phagocytophilum PCR is still available for suspected cases of bovine babesiosis and tick-borne fever, on a case-by-case basis. Submission of samples for testing will not only help inform on-farm control plans but, will also further aid our understanding of disease epidemiology, which is evolving in the face of climate and land use change. Practitioners should ring their local VIC to discuss potential cases further, before sending samples to APHA Starcross if free testing is agreed.

Surveillance of cattle faecal samples from England & Wales for presence of Ostertagia ostertagi and markers for resistance to benzimidazoles

Recent investigations by the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) and the Moredun Research Institute (MRI) have suggested that bovine parasitic gastroenteritis (PGE) due to Ostertagia ostertagi (Oo) may be underdiagnosed. In addition, they have identified resistance to the benzimidazole class of anthelmintics in this roundworm species. This was the first detection of this type in the UK, and this resistance is also likely to be underdiagnosed in this economically important roundworm.

For the 2022 grazing season, APHA and MRI are running a project to investigate resistance, or reduced efficacy, to benzimidazoles (BZ) in Ostertagia ostertagi (Oo) in cattle in England and Wales.

Project sampling, submission and testing details:

  • Samples from first season grazers (+/- *second season that did not graze much the previous year), which have been out at pasture for at least four-to-six weeks
  • The sampled animals should be either untreated, or have not been treated for at least two weeks
  • Freshly voided faeces samples (collected from yard or pasture) from 5 to 10 animals (10 is preferred but at least 5 animals)
  • The 5 to 10 samples to be sent to APHA Carmarthen with a completed APHA bovine submission form (or submission details entered on ADTS portal). Please note on the form that they are for the ‘Ostertagia project’.
  • APHA Carmarthen will pool the samples, run a free of charge FEC, and report the results in the usual way
  • The pooled sample will then be forwarded to MRI for genomic testing, with the results being reported back once the genomic testing is completed (please note that these will be done in batches so they may be reported later in the year)

Further information can be found in the project details.

For enquiries regarding the project please contact:
Mick Macrelli:  Michele.Macrelli@apha.gov.uk
Vanessa Swinson:  Vanessa.swinson@apha.gov.uk.

Disease information

Farmer feedback from previous stakeholder conferences told us that the top three priority diseases in extensively managed livestock are liver fluke, sheep scab, and tick-borne diseases. Articles of particular relevance are listed below:

Disease Surveillance in Extensively Managed Livestock

Ectoparasites including Sheep Scab

Endoparasites including Liver Fluke

  • Taenia saginata - Transmission of tapeworms between humans and cattle – July 2020 - English | Welsh

Tick-borne diseases

Other

Previous Activities

Activities related to the development of the Centre of Expertise have included two stakeholder conferences. Most recently a webinar was held covering tick-borne diseases.

Stakeholder Conferences

Bristol 2016

Our first conference in Bristol in July 2016 discussed issues faced in monitoring the health and welfare of extensively managed livestock. Fifty five delegates brought together representatives from industry, academia, retail, government and the veterinary profession to share information and develop collaborative ways of working to detect and manage disease and welfare threats.

The full report from the conference, including details on presentations and interactive sessions on how information and data could be better utilised is available.
A strong message gathered from workshop participants was on the better use of existing data. In particular how to provide access to APHA and SRUC Veterinary Services diagnostic data (VIDA) to farmers and veterinary surgeons. This has led to development of online 'GB Disease Surveillance Dashboards' which are now freely available online.

Penrith 2017

A second conference at Newton Rigg College, Penrith in November 2017 allowed interested stakeholders in the north of England and Scotland to contribute to the Centre's development and work. The full report from the conference, including details on presentations and interactive sessions on communication channels and the disease threats and health issues of importance in this sector is available.

Webinar 2020

In December 2020, a webinar brought together expert speakers from the fields of animal and human health to talk about tick-borne diseases. The webinar attracted a wide audience with participants including farmers, private vets, government vets and members of industry, academia and research. The talks were well received and generated some interesting questions and discussion. The majority of these talks are now available to watch on APHA’s YouTube channel: