The theme for the fifth episode of the EIT 'Focus on Farmers' Virtual Farm Walk and Discussion Series was “Adapting to a changing world, a focus on sustainable parasite control and the evolution of animal welfare concepts”. 

Professors Eric Morgan and Gareth Arnott from Queen’s University were invited to share their expertise as guest speakers alongside ambassador farmers Sam Chesney from Co. Down and James Evans from Shropshire.

Ards farmer Sam Chesney led the meeting with an insight into practices he follows to control the risk of parasites in cattle on his farm, stating the importance of keeping healthy and happy stock. Addressing the welfare aspect of the episode, Sam described his use of a quiet crush to minimise stress in his stock and how he maintains blade cattle within social groups throughout their time on the farm.

Following Sam’s opening, Professor Eric Morgan delivered an insightful presentation on ‘Parasites, Resistance and Climate Change’. He advised a need to move forward in attempts to control worms on farms as a result of increasing anthelmintic resistance and the effect climate change is having on worm lifecycles. He discussed environmental considerations and new technologies available to predict outbreaks on pasture.

Leading on from a round of questions from the audience, James Evans gave a brief talk on the control of parasites on his organic farm in Shropshire, paying particular attention to how he has improved dung beetle populations on farm.  James addressed the need to produce high quality products with animals having a high quality of health and welfare, stating how this is essential for consumer perception as well as meat quality.

Dr Gareth Arnott presented some findings from animal welfare and behaviour studies during his presentation on ‘Animal Welfare in a Changing World’.  He addressed the idea of ensuring animals have a “life worth living” and demonstrated some indicators of positive welfare, such as play behaviour in calves.  He described how the use of innovative technologies can improve welfare and health of stock on farms, as well as the outcomes of a study which looked at how behaviour and animal handling can impact meat quality.

The recording of this webinar is available to view on the AgriSearch website and YouTube channel: 

The next event in the series will take place on Monday 19th October at 8pm and will focus on the eating quality of beef.  The guest speaker will be Professor Nigel Scollan from Queen’s University.