Northern areas labelled high-risk for liver fluke

Farmers in North Wales, north-west England and Scotland have been warned to be on the lookout for liver fluke this winter.

According to the latest National Animal Disease Information Service (NADIS) parasite forecast, these areas have been named as high-risk for liver fluke.

While this has no impact on the quality of the meat, liver fluke infection can have an adverse effect on animal performance. Sheep and cows that become infected with the illness can lose significant weight, meaning they can take longer to reach their target weight and finish. This can result in a financial loss to farmers through the increased amount of feed required.

Sheep flocks could experience increased barren rates from infection during the autumn months, as well as poor retention of lambs during gestation. Pregnant lambs can experience difficulties such as reduced colostrum quality and loss of body condition.

The NADIS fluke forecast is based on a high liver fluke presence over the summer months, which had increased pasture contamination with eggs, coupled with the mild weather experienced towards the end of 2016.

“Liver fluke infection can mean lambs having up to a 30% reduction in daily live weight gain,” said Gwawr Parry, industry development officer at Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC). “But there are actions farmers can take to reduce the risk, such as releasing housed livestock onto pasture previously cut for silage, which has a lower risk of egg contamination.

“Further information and advice is available on the websites of SCOPS (Sustainable Control of Parasites in Sheep) and COWS (Control of Worms Sustainable). Vets can also advise on the best preventative action to take, and on the responsible use of wormers.”

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