BEEF INDUSTRY NEWS
Mild winter increases fluke risk in sheep and cattle
There is a high risk chronic liver fluke burdens in livestock in western regions of the UK and
especially in Scotland, according to the latest NADIS Parasite Forecast , sponsored by Merial
Animal Health. Beef and sheep farmers are warned to be on alert for signs of fluke disease
and take appropriate action, based on local risk factors.
Chronic liver fluke infection peaks in the late winter and early spring. The recent mild weather
has enabled a greater number of fluke to survive the winter, leading to high numbers of
parasites on pasture. Assessing and treating cattle and sheep now will help prevent production
losses, particularly due to impaired reproductive performance in ewes, and increased finishing
times for growing cattle. It will also reduce pasture contamination with fluke eggs, leading to a
reduction in fluke larval challenge in late summer and autumn 2016.
In cattle, heavy adult liver fluke burdens may now be identified by rapid weight loss and
diarrhea, which can increase finishing times by several weeks and impact significantly on cost
of production 1 .
Over a fifth of British cattle livers are condemned at the slaughterhouse due to liver fluke
damage. Asking the abattoir for feedback on liver condemnation can help identify if there is a
fluke issue within the herd.
“Outwintered cattle are at particular risk due to the relatively mild winter weather, which
allowed infective fluke to remain active on the pasture long into winter. Cattle grazing
potentially infected pastures should either be dosed, or checked for the presence of fluke eggs
in faeces,” says Ms. Timothy.
Adult fluke in beef cattle can be treated with a straight flukicide product such as those
containing nitroxynil or closantel, or a combination product such as containing ivermectin and
clorsulon where treatment of worms is also required.
From NBA Newsletter 6th February 2016