Micron Kit, a rapid parasite testing kit from Micron Agritech will be launched to coincide with incoming EU vet medicine rules in January 2022, company co-founder Daniel Izquierdo told the Irish Farmers Journal.

The Dublin-based startup raised €500,000 in seed money for its kit which the founders hope will “take the burden out of the incoming regulations”.

The new regulations are set to create a chokehold on the supply of animal medicines, with farmers only to be sold the exact amount of wormer or antibiotic needed for an individual animal.

Blanket dosing or medically treating animals will not be possible without proving the need for it.

For cattle and sheep, it is likely dung sampling will be required to provide evidence that treatment is necessary.

Time and money

Micron Agritech was set up by Sean Smith, Daniel Izquierdo, Tara McElligott and Jose Lopez in 2019 while they were students at Technological University Dublin.

Izquierdo believes the company is well-placed to help farmers and vets alike adapt to the looming ban on prophylactic use of medicines in farming.

“Simply collect a dung sample, prepare with solution and then analyse using a reader which sits on your phone. Then using our app, the phone analyses the sample,” Izquierdo said.

“Farmers and vets will get a result back in under half an hour, and through the app and they can track the history of the animals. You can see results from previous tests and even send reports to your vet.

“Essentially what this means is farmers can save time, reducing the wait for results and also the amount of dosing that they're doing. It's quite tedious to dose an entire herd of animals, and by testing you reduce the amount of treatment that you need to do so you save money too.”

Reducing resistance

The Micron Kit will initially be targeted at worm testing in cattle, with plans to expand the product to cover all livestock for all parasites.

The kit will provide quantitative and qualitative results relating to each disease, identifying the number of eggs present and the variety of eggs.

Micron Agritech predicts that a reduction in prophylactic medicine use as a result of the new EU rules combined with the use of their test kit will lead to a reduced risk of resistance.

The main question for the industry is how effective the test kit will be.

“We've conducted a clinical trial last year, and we're about to conduct another trial this summer. The best answer to that question is, we're going to make sure that the data validates the product as extensively as possible," Izquierdo said.

“Those leading the trials are ex-directors at Pfizer. They've been leading the clinical work and writing the analysis paper. Very good results so far.”

The company has yet to release a price for their kits.