Farmers are being urged not to be complacent on liver fluke this autumn.
The Sustainable Control of Parasites in Sheep (SCOPS) and Control of Cattle Parasites Sustainably (COWS) said it would be ‘wrong’ for producers to assume the dry summer has killed off all liver fluke parasites and the mud snails associated with its complex life cycle.
Lesley Stubbings of SCOPS says: “The burden of liver fluke on pasture will be much lower than last season due to one of the hottest and driest summers on record in many parts of the UK, but it is dangerous to assume this applies to all farms or even all areas on one farm.
“Early diagnostic reports from labs and abattoir feedback in some areas suggest we must be careful. In a dry year, the infective stages of liver fluke will be concentrated around permanently wet patches, such as drinking points where there is moisture for snails, which of course is where animals congregate too.”
As a result of the dry year it is even more important for each farm to do its own liver fluke risk assessment, say the groups, as huge variations will exist from farm to farm.
COWS says: “On many farms where animals would normally be routinely treated, testing could help to avoid unnecessary treatments of animals that do not harbour liver fluke. This saves money and time and helps us protect the few medicines we have available to combat this parasite.”
Some of the tools outlined include specific blood tests, copro (dung) antigen tests and faecal egg detection tests, details of which can be found on the SCOPS and COWS websites at www.scops.org.uk and www.cattleparasites.org.uk.