New parasitic test to help sheep breeders

Sheep breeders will be able to prevent illness in their flocks much more easily now after AgResearch launched a new parasite test today.

The CARLATM saliva test which measures natural immunity to internal parasites in sheep was launched by Agriculture Minister David Carter at the Hopkirk Research Institute in Palmerston North.

AgResearch said the saliva test would allow breeders to test sheep more accurately, quickly and easily.

A three-strong sampling team could process more than 120 animals an hour.

The CARLATM antibody is naturally produced by the sheep's immune system to protect against parasite infection, and the saliva test checks antibody levels.

Identifying sheep which had these natural antibodies meant breeders could selectively breed, AgResearch animal health section senior scientist Richard Shaw said.

"This new technology will generate significant returns for sheep farmers countrywide.

"CARLATM will generate income for the industry and for New Zealand."

Parasitic worms causing illness in sheep cost an estimated $300 million each year in lost production and treatment costs.

AgResearch said the test could replace worm egg count testing, which required collecting faeces.




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