Sunday 5 July 2009


Maggots are astir in the countryside, no reason why they shouldn't be the weather conditions are perfect for them, hot and humid. We'd all sooner not see the little blighters however as they can cause a great deal of misery to both the sheep and the shepherd.

In the house you have to be aware in weather like this that the blow fly is around and generally keep any food happed up or in the fridge, anything dying outdoors will soon be moving with maggots and will disintegrate in a number of days. However, the blow fly doesn't just go for stationary, dead food sources, it heads for live food sources as well and sheep are one of them.

The problem today has been lame lambs and sheep with maggots in the feet, the sheep has been lying long enough for the fly to lay her eggs and within 24 hours maggots will have emerged, they eat away at the dead, stinking part of the foot and can actually do a better job of dressing a bad foot than we can, however, they don't always stop there.

The sheep lies down and tucks its feet in, the maggots start to wriggle around and soon climb onto the wool of the belly and then away up the flank of the sheep. Recent years have seen burrowing maggots -"black heeded buggers" - they do just that, burrow under the flesh of the animal causing immense distress and not always easily removed. It's quite a problem when sheep suffer from fly strike, nature at its worst.

there are products on the market which help alleviate the problem, some are pour ons which are a growth inhibitor, the eggs can be laid but don't usually hatch and if they do the maggots fail to grow. There are others which actually kill the eggs before they can be hatched, however these only seem to work on the actual part of the wool which they were administered to. The best approach if conditions are serious enough is plunge dipping, where the sheep is immersed in water with dip added to it, there again though the dips aren't as good as they used to be and although helpful against lice, ticks, scab they aren't always totally effective against blow fly. It often seems that anything which is hugely successful ends up being taken of the market.

Fortunately these sheep have been treated with the growth inhibiting pour on which won't prevent strike in the feet but ought to prevent the little blighters spreading over the sheeps bodies.