A telephone survey of 600 farmers throughout Great Britain and Ireland was conducted in order to characterise helminth control practices, and identify factors correlated with perceived anthelmintic failure.Overall, 93% of surveyed farmers routinely treated their sheep against nematodes, 67% against liver fluke and 58% against tapeworms. Anthelmintic resistance in nematodes was perceived by farmers to be present on 10% of farms. Farmers who dosed ewes at mating were more likely to have observed anthelmintic failure, than those who were aware of national guidelines on parasite control. However, objective assessment of anthelmintic efficacy had only been undertaken on 19% of farms. Ewes were treated at mating and lambing on 63% and 62% of farms, respectively. On average, lambs were treated 3.6 times annually, depending on geographical region and on dates of lambing and finishing. Although 'quarantine' treatments were widely administered to bought-in stock, these were appropriately applied in only 3% of cases.This study provides baseline data against which the impact of future anthelmintic information campaigns can be assessed; it will facilitate the development of rational, farm-level mathematical models in support of sustainable parasite control, and will aid in the design of farm management practices that prolong the effective lifespan of novel classes of anthelmintic. (C) 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.