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Sustainable liver fluke control in dairy herds

Effective management of liver fluke in dairy cows can be based on a ‘4 Point Plan’:

  • Effective treatment of animals at risk – using the right product at the right time.
    This means being aware of the stages of fluke that are likely to be within the animal at the time of treatment and selecting an appropriate active to control that. Eg. At housing, cows are likely to have early immature and immature fluke so oral triclabendazole would be an appropriate choice.
  • Pasture protection – using an effective adulticide treatment in early summer to minimise pasture contamination with fluke eggs going into autumn.
  • Grazing management – fencing off wet or boggy areas, which offer a perfect habitat for snails, so are high risk for metacercaria; planned use of forage crops and/or housing to keep animals off high risk areas at high risk times of year.
  • Pasture management – fix leaky troughs and maintain effective drainage to minimise snail habitats and reduce snail numbers to reduce the number of infective stages (metaceracria) released onto pasture.

We cannot rely solely on animal treatment, we need to consider all the points for sustainable control. Where a lack of efficacy is suspected with any treatment, contact your vet and testing can be carried out to confirm this. If you have known triclabendazole resistance on farm, treatments targeting older fluke will have to be used in conjunction with all the points above in the 4 point plan.