Liver fluke on the rise

More than one in five cattle slaughtered at UK abattoirs have condemned livers due to liver fluke, according to the Meat Hygiene Service.

Fiona MacGillivray, vet adviser for Merial, says these figures are part of a trend showing a rise in liver fluke.

“The number of cases of fluke in cattle almost tripled between 2001 and 2008,” she says.

More than a quarter of all cattle for slaughter in Scotland and Wales had their livers condemned due to fluke, with nearly 18% in England.

Figures from individual abattoirs, obtained by Merial, show even more worrying figures, with some reporting up to 60% condemned livers.

“As a result of milder wetter weather and movement of animals across country, areas once fluke free are now recording cases,” says Ms MacGillivray.

“Furthermore, the fluke season has extended, so fluke is no longer just an autumn and winter problem, but a spring and summer one too.”

And while many farmers treat cattle for fluke at housing, few are aware of the benefits of administering a dose while cattle are at grass, 8-10 weeks post-turnout.

Treating for fluke will increase productivity, decrease finishing time and reduce the chances of re-infestation, says EBLEX’s Phil Hadley.

And with fluke infestation in growing cattle shown to depress liveweight gain by 1.2kg/week, it is well worth treating.