Healthy choices that can also benefit the environment
Ecologist, farmer and TV presenter, Dr Sarah Beynon explains why the dung beetle is essential to our planet’s ecosystem, and highlights the dangers of using toxic chemicals.
I am farmer, horse owner and scientist. My research looks at beneficial invertebrates in agriculture, and how we can get them to work for us. One of my main areas of research is into the dung beetle. Dung beetles are nature’s recyclers. They feed on and bury dung. They clear our pastures, and by doing that they can save just the UK cattle industry 367 million pounds a year. What’s exciting for us as farmers and horse owners is that if we look after our dung beetles we can get them to save us even more money and time.
Dung beetles, however, are not doing their job as well as they could be, and the main reason for this is the over use of pharmaceutical wormers. So we give our horses, our cattle, our sheep, chemicals to control their internal parasites as well as external parasites like flies. Those chemicals often go straight into the dung where the dung beetles consume them, and they can kill the dung beetles, or make them less efficient.
"One of the ways that we can look after our dung beetles is to reduce the amount of pharmaceutical wormers we use and look at alternatives."
How else can we manage parasites in our livestock without chemicals?
There are ways of reducing the amount of pharmaceutical wormers that you use, whether it be poo picking, rotational grazing or using herbal alternatives.
We all love our animals. But if we thought a little bit more about what we put into them, it would benefit their health and it would also benefit the environment.
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