North Sheep 2013

Sheep farmers are being warned not to assume all fluke treatments are effective against immature fluke.

Speaking at last week’s North Sheep event hosted at Crimple Head Farm, Harrogate, vet Fiona Lovatt explained how some products would kill all immature fluke right down to those at two days old, but others would kill only immature fluke down to an age of five or six weeks old.

“It’s so important for farmers to read the packaging very carefully and ensure precisely what level of immature fluke the product is effective against,” she said.

She told farmers none of the fluke products available gave any lasting protection. “They will deal with what’s there on the day of treatment, but they don’t have persistency. So it’s essential to avoid sheep picking up more fluke once they have been treated – and that will happen if they are returned to “flukey” ground after treatment and so will need further treatment.

Dr Lovatt described the experience of one upland farm carrying 600 ewes with tups turned out on 1 November whose scanning percentage was down from the normal 200% to 160%. The cause was diagnosed as acute fluke and it proved very costly.

“Losing this level of lambs and factoring in four ewe deaths and culling 10 others as a result of fluke, virtually wiped out this entire flock’s profit margin of £33 a ewe.”

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