27 May 2015 | Online since 2003



Vets warn farmers over liver fluke risks


Sheep farmers are being warned that while liver fluke epidemics may have failed to hit the headlines during the recent winter, they have not disappeared, according to vets from Scotland's Rural College.

The disaster of the wet summer and winter of 2012/13 and the devastation the parasites caused for sheep health in both traditional fluke areas and others previously untouched may not have been repeated this year, but there is no cause for flockmasters to lower their guard.

According to Dumfries-based Vet Heather Stevenson from the SAC Consulting arm of SRUC there are two reasons why liver fluke was less reported: “The very welcome drier summer of 2013 put the brakes on fluke development.

"There were fewer wet areas for the mud snail that hosts the fluke during part of its life cycle and this in turn meant there were fewer numbers of infectious cysts on the autumn grass for sheep to ingest. In addition the increased awareness of fluke encouraged farmers to treat their stock for fluke and reduced losses.”

Liver fluke (Fasciola hepatica) is a parasite of sheep and cattle, but can also infect other mammals including horses, deer, goats, camels and llamas. Adult fluke in the liver produce large numbers of eggs which are excreted in faeces.

The hatching fluke then penetrate a mud snail (Galba truncatula) where they develop and multiply for several weeks. On leaving the snail they form the infectious cysts which are found stuck to vegetation in greatest numbers during autumn.

Wet summers suit the mud snail host and lead to higher numbers of infectious cysts on the autumn grass. After ingestion the fluke migrate through the liver, taking 10 -12 weeks to develop into adults in the bile ducts.

Heavy infections can lead to sheep deaths after 4-8 weeks, due to haemorrhage and destruction of the liver. Ingestion of smaller numbers means fewer deaths but sheep that are unhealthy and fail to thrive.

Heather warns that the bad memories may have faded but if we get another wet summer we could find ourselves in another battle.

“If it rains a lot this summer fluke eggs passed in dung at this time of year will end up as infectious cysts on the autumn grazing,” she says. “Since the weather can’t be accurately predicted it is better to be safe than sorry and the May/June period is a good time to treat sheep in order to break the fluke cycle.”

It is recommended that dung samples are collected and checked for fluke eggs to find out if treatment is required.

Treatment should be targeted at killing adult fluke so products aimed at juvenile flukes, like those containing triclabendazole, are not recommended at this time of year.

The exception to this rule is when testing is being carried out to find out if triclabendazole is working properly on your farm.

This is valuable information to have as it will guide product choice in the autumn.

Download




Comments


No comments posted yet. Be the first to post a comment

To post comment without approval login or register

Display name

Please enter your name

Email (optional)
Comment

Please enter your comment

Post Comment

Your comment submitted successfully.Please wait for admin approval.

Some error on your process.Please try one more time.



Jobs


15 May 2015
Job for a Tractor driver near Swindon
Contractor looking for experienced tractor driver, for operations in, grass silage making, baling and wrapping, maize silage ...

1 June 2015
SKILLED ARABLE OPERATOR with PA1, PA2 and telehandler certificates >>> Louth
An exciting opportunity has arisen for a Skilled Arable Operator on a forward thinking 1000ha mixed farm near Horncastle, Lin...

25 May 2015
Harvest student / worker. Onion topping and raising...grain carting , onion carting and some cults on a CAT 765B. Job near Huntindon.
We require an enthusiastic, responsible loyal young person to help on a 450 ha family farm. The job involves, grain carting,o...

11 May 2015
BEEF AND ARABLE OPPORTUNITY >>>> Colchester,
To join team on progressive beef and arable enterprise. Some experience necessary but plenty of opportunity given to pro...

29 May 2015
Job for Assistant Sales and Contracts Manager for Fertilisers, Composts and Lime products>>> Tetbury
A practical hands on individual is required to assist and develop the sale, supply and application of Fertilisers, Composts a...



Top stories you may have missed
15 May 2015 | Arable

Scotland’s Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead is calling on the Europ...


15 May 2015 | Finance

As the country settles down following the turmoil of the general election, ...


14 May 2015 | Animal Health

New research from the Universities of Bristol and Cambridge has found that ...


13 May 2015 | Animal Health

A new publication to help farmers prevent sheep lameness and offer advice o...


12 May 2015 | Agri Safety

The Farmers’ Union of Wales is putting the spotlight on Liver fluke at next...


5 May 2015 | News

The UK is now third in the global rankings for utility-scale solar energy a...


29 April 2015 | Agri Safety

A recent Rural Watch demonstration and information event gave Farmers’ Unio...


24 April 2015 | Meat Processing

Retailers should confirm their commitments to sourcing UK lamb this season,...


15 April 2015 | Meat Processing

A leading retailer has apologised after selling imported lamb in a Borders ...


9 April 2015 | Finance

The time has come for landlords to expect to see reductions in farm rents, ...