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Liver Fluke Control in Cattle

Liver fluke has spread over the last decade and is now found across the country. This is due to:

  • Greater movement of infected animals
  • Inadequate (or sub-optimal) quarantine treatments
  • Changing weather patterns – increased rainfall and milder winters

Liver fluke has 3 stages in the animal – early immature, immature and adult – all of which cause liver damage and decrease feed intakes and efficiency of utilisation2. The objective of liver fluke control is to reduce the risk of infection to a level that does not impact on animal welfare or affect the efficiency or economics of production. The majority of cattle are treated at, or around, housing time, when there is likely to be a varying number of different stages of fluke in the liver. It is therefore important to treat using the right active at the right time after housing depending on which stages of fluke are killed by the product.

Liver flukes reduce the fat content of the milk and decreases the milk yield by 3.8 to 15.2 per cent in affected animals.1

Animals with 1-10 fluke present in their liver at slaughter took on average 31 days longer to reach slaughter weight, while animals with more than 10 took on average 77 days longer to finish.3

Cattle Liver Fluke

Always check individual product SPCs and seek advice from vet or animal health provider.

Resistance to triclabenadzole has been identified on a number of farms. To identify resistance problems early, it is recommended to check that treatments have been effective. Once liver fluke have become resistant to an active ingredient, and can survive exposure to a treatment that would normally kill them, there is no evidence to suggest they will return to susceptibility.

As individuals, and as an industry, we can’t afford to allow this to happen. To achieve effective control now – and to preserve the efficacy of the existing active ingredients for the future – we need to adopt a new approach to liver fluke management.

This can be achieved by concentrating on the 4 key elements for sustainable liver fluke control.

Even when the fluke forecast is for low risk, this does not mean there is no risk. The fluke risk depends on the habitat on the individual farm, and on some farms in a dry season when the regional risk is low, the available grazing will be concentrated in the wetter areas of the farm where fluke will still be present.

Even low levels of fluke which don’t cause obvious clinical disease, will still have a significant impact on animal health and productivity. Don’t get caught out, when the forecast is for low risk, make sure you investigate the fluke challenge on your own farm.

See the current liver fluke risk forecast from NADIS here.