Warning over fluke threat as summer approaches

Farmers are being encouraged to treat grazing cattle for fluke this summer as cases continue to rise.

Figures for 2011 showed 22% of all cattle livers were condemned due to fluke at an expected cost of £15m to the beef and sheep industry, said EBLEX southern senior regional manager, Phil Hadley.

“The losses are two-fold. Almost £3m is lost from the processing sector. But the cost to the producer is far more significant, at approximately £25-30 per infected animal, due to slower weight gain and lower feed conversion rates,” he said.

Dr Hadley said the milder, wetter summers had created good conditions for mud snail numbers – the intermediate host. “This means we have seen fluke creeping in to places that didn’t have fluke in the past.”

Dr Hadley advised produces to get feedback from abattoirs on the number of livers being condemned to fluke.

“If you know you’ve got it you can then do something about it. Discuss a treatment and control plan with your vet to ensure maximum benefit without encountering resistance to products available.”

However, although summer may not be a classical time for fluke, treating cattle eight to ten weeks after turnout can stop fluke laying eggs thus minimising pasture contamination and winter disease, explained brand manager for Merial Animal Health, Lynda Maras.

“Treating now will help break the fluke life cycle and will help animals grow better. You may not even know fluke is an issue in cattle as many of the symptoms are subclinical and may only manifest by poorer production.”

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For more information on fluke control go read our fluke and worms academy