Overwintered fluke disease is forecast to be significant inall regions of the UK, except eastern England and the Midlands, according tothe November Parasite Forecast from NADIS, sponsored by Merial Animal Health.Farmers should be vigilant for signs of infection as the level of disease couldbe higher than anticipated in previous forecasts.
Regionally, there remains a high prevalence of liver flukedisease in northern and western Scotland and Northern Ireland, with occasionallosses due to fluke, forecast in western England and Wales.
The risk for individual farms will vary depending on theregion and also on local pasture conditions and history. The risk will behigher when pastures have been wet through the summer. Farmers should avoidgrazing cattle and sheep on these pastures if at all possible, or where thiscannot be avoided, animals should be treated with an appropriate flukicide.
Housing cattle over the winter will prevent furtherinfection being picked up and provides the opportunity to treat fluke beforeturnout in spring. Sheep will continue to be exposed to infection if not housedand the risk period for acute fluke disease (typically late autumn) may extendinto the winter.
Merial AnimalHealth veterinary advisor Fiona MacGillivray says: Housed cattle that have been exposed to infection at pasture willrequire treatment. If local conditions indicate a likely high risk of diseaseit would be wise to treat for fluke at or around the time of housing. This willaddress the effects of adult fluke on production over the winter, such asreduced feed conversion rates and increased finishing times.
It may be advisable to check for fluke eggs approximatelythree months later, in case a second treatment is required prior to turnout,” she adds.
The dry summer and early autumn will most likely lead to alate peak in gutworm larvae on pastures. A housing dose of a larvicidal wormeris advisable for young stock, including spring-born and yearling calves toclear inhibited gutworm larvae and any lungworm infection.
For dairy farmers there is a simple and reliable bulk milk test (MOOtest) available to assess the level of gutworm challenge a herd isfacing. The results are reported as low, medium or high, allowing farmersto determine whether or not treatment would be beneficial in terms of improvedproduction. In cases where the challenge is high there is substantialevidence to demonstrate a significant benefit in productivity by removinggutworms with Eprinex which has been successfully used by farmersfor more than 15 years, says the company. It has a nil milk withhold and can be used at anystage of lactation, so even year-round calving herds can benefit from treatmentat this key time of year.