UK – Recent dry weather should lead to a reduction in liver fluke cases but stock keepers should not lower their guard, a leading livestock researcher has told farmers.
Mild and wet winters have precluded a dry summer which, according to senior research scientist Dr Philip Skuce, Moredun Institute, leaves cattle and sheep farmers with something to ponder.
Summarising the UK fluke picture, Dr Skuce said: “Expect it to drop but don’t take your eye off the ball.
“Dry weather will have an impact on fluke infection.”
Speaking at the National Sheep Association Event at Malvern last week, he advised farmers that snails can wash to new parts of the farm and previously unaffected holdings.
This could have happened over the heavy rain of the last winter, he explained.
He emphasised that concerns are still mounting over fluke resistance to the leading chemistry on the market – Triclabendazole.
“Our options are limited and we need to be very careful about what we use and when,” said Dr Skuce, summarising dosing options.
Welsh veterinary surgeon Frances Jones called on farmers to use diagnostic help.
“Diagnostic work costs very little,” said Mr Jones, who saw fluke result in 120 lamb deaths on a farm which didn’t think it had a problem.
“This is costly in emotions and takes a lot out of you as a farmer,” he added.
He said that weighing lambs can convince farmers the work being done is effective and said that keeping Triclabendazole in the medicine cupboard will mean reducing usage.
Farmers must be honest with themselves about the losses they encounter, he added.
This will help in dealing with drug resistance issues.
“We must not get months down the line to find out we have more problems.”
EBLEX (The English Beef and Lamb Executive) has calculated the cost of a fluke case at £25-30. Estimations for an outbreak on a farm in south east Scotland reached £20,000.