High summer rainfall brings heightened parasite risk in livestock

High and regular rainfall through June and July has increased the threat sheep and cattle face from parasites, animal health experts have warned.

Sheep are in danger of liver fluke, gastrointestinal worms and blowfly strike, while cattle operations should be vigilant for gutworm and lungworm.

This is according to Merial Animal Health when discussing the latest summer National Animal Disease Information Service (NADIS) parasite forecast for the UK. 

See also: How grazing strategy can control parasites in cattle

Advice is to monitor lamb growth rates and faecal egg count to target appropriate drugs at the right lambs. Young cattle, meanwhile, are most at risk as they could be naive to worms in their first season at grass.

Sheep and lamb parasite update

Sheep conditions

  • Parasitic gastroenteritis in lambs remains a risk through late summer
  • Blowfly strike continues to be a risk – female flies are attracted to wounds and soiled fleece

Wormer advice

  • Select the most appropriate anthelmintic at weaning
  • Select animals for treatment with lower liveweight gain and faecal egg counts
  • Test for wormer resistance

Cattle parasite update

Cattle conditions

  • Ostertagia ostertagi is the main gutworm parasite for cattle
  • Cooperia spp are also common gutworms in young cattle in their first grazing season
  • Cases of type 1 ostertagiosis and parasitic gastroenteritis typically peak in youngstock during August and September on permanent pasture

Lungworm advice

  • Where lungworm is a problem, first-year grazers should be vaccinated prior to turnout
  • Vaccinated calves still have lower immunity – maintain vigilance
  • Unvaccinated calves should be monitored closely for signs of lungworm infection