Farmers are getting alongside their neighbouring village dog owner peers to boost everyone's education.

There is a problem in our area of sheep contracting a parasite that lives in the faeces of dogs.

Cysticercus ovis, commonly known as sheep measles, is a tapeworm parasite that causes significant economic losses due to the rejection and downgrading of lamb carcasses.

The parasite is carried by dogs, and while harmless to the dog, the larval stage in sheep causes cysts in the muscle.

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The tapeworms develop in dogs' intestines which then pass eggs in the dog's droppings.

Although it is mainly dogs that go on to sheep pasture causing contamination, the eggs are light enough to be carried by flies and wind so untreated dogs living close to farms can cause a problem. Eggs can survive on pasture for up to six months, so one infected dog's droppings can infect many lambs.

Downgrading of carcasses has a significant financial cost, so a dog worming programme should be part of any farmer's animal health plan. It is important to include all dogs, including the house pets, who are more likely to get access to raw meat.

I encourage everyone to ensure their dogs are on a regular dosing programme.

Whanganui has one of the higher incidence rates of sheep measles, and there are hotspots on some local farms.

Because of this, local farmers Brenda and Andy Collins, who farm at Mangamahu and Fordell, have taken the initiative to organise a barbecue in Fordell on Friday, December 7.

The villagers are asked to bring their dogs along. The owners can enjoy a sausage, and their dogs will be given a free worming tablet. The tablets are being funded by local farmers surrounding the village.

I encourage farmers to get alongside their neighbours who own dogs, take a few worming tablets and explain to them how easy it can be. It is a good opportunity for town and country to better understand how their activities can impact on each other's livelihoods.