Thursday, 15 October 2009

Liver Fluke

Last night Tim and I went to a talk given by our vets on Liver Fluke in sheep and cattle. We went along with a couple of other smallholders and we all thought that there would just be a handful of people to listen. WRONG there were nearly 100 local farmers in attendance to listen to the talk.
Liver fluke has never really been a problem in this area but over the last couple of years it's been rearing it's ugly head. There is no cure for it, only control by regular medication and some paddock maintenance. This is the only parasite that affects BOTH sheep and cattle, so you have to treat both sets of animals, and not all medication controls the full life cycle of the fluke whilst in the animal.
Interestingly it is thought the reason why fluke is now in the North East is due to the Foot and Mouth outbreak 9 years ago. Everyone that was "wiped" out bought in new stock from the areas that were clear of Foot and Mouth and some of these animals will have come from the West side of the UK where the fluke is rife, and because there has never been a problem with fluke at this side of the country, animals were not given a flukicide as part of their general health/worming programme. Slowly the population of fluke has been growing, we've then had 2 very wet summers, ideal breeding for the fluke and the snail it relies on and BANG, everyone has a problem.
For us, all I know is that we have reeds in our paddocks, which signifies we have wet areas, a good breeding ground for the host snail for the fluke, and though none of our sheep we have taken to the abattoir show signs of fluke damage, we will be dosing our sheep against fluke. There is a joint wormer/flukicide that has come onto the market that has a 27 day meat withdrawal period, as opposed to the normal 56 day withdrawal period. Which means we can treat the lambs that should be going to the market next month as light lambs.
All in all it was a very interesting meeting and it did generate a lot of "chatter" around the tables. Our girls come in at the end of this month for their annual pre tup MOT, so I will be checking with the vet what flukicide we need to be using.


Jenny Holden said...

This in interesting, I didn't know that the East was fluke free until recently. Fluke is a huge problem in both Cumbria and Argyll but through management, my sheep have always been found to be remarkably fluke free. Rather than routine dosing you might want to consider getting droppings screened regularly for fluke. That way you slow the process of fluke becoming resistant to whatever meds you use and also save money! Fasimec Duo S is the newest combined fluke and wormer. I've had to start routine treatments because my new vet up here doesn't do fluke screening.

Denise said...

Mmm it's interesting what vets do and don't do. But thanks for the advice. I do get worm egg counts done, on a yearly basis, but not for fluke, so I will ask the vet to do this. It shouldn't be a problem as Wendy is the vet who seems to specialise in this area.

hilaryc said...

I have just been looking up about liver fluke ( I have alpacas), - and am wondering if you will be treating yours, as well as your sheep. I was at the auction mart in thirsk today ( alpaca show) and spoke to the guy in the shop - if he would recommend it , in my area _ I am just by Richmond ( my vet said they have had some cases up teesdale but was very noncommital on alpacas), I have had faecals done , which are clear, but have read another article saying that alpacas infrequently excrete eggs ( they have no gallbladder),

The guy in Thirsk said meds were going out by the load to sheepfarmers,

Just trying to make a plan of action!


( Brompton-on-Swale)

Denise said...

Hi Hilary, not sure about the alpacas, as no one is sure the medication is safe with them. You could ask the B.A.S as to what their advice is on the subject. The vet did say that ALL animals that graze grass will be infected with liver fluke, but it can depend on the level of infection as to how the animals cope etc. I'm a great believer in having a worm egg count done and asking specifically for a liver fluke check. Hope that helps. Was it a good day at Thirsk today?

Anonymous said...

There is obviously a lot to know about this. I think you made some good points in Features also.