Research Says ‘Treat For Fluke At Housing’

GLOBAL - Treat your cattle for fluke as soon as you house them – this is the conclusion of new research announced by Merial Animal Health.
calendar icon 20 October 2011
clock icon 2 minute read

The work, which was carried out during the autumn of 2010, showed that the overwhelming majority of fluke in the livers of housed cattle were late immature/adult.

Fiona MacGillivray, Veterinary Adviser with Merial, says: “It is adult fluke that have the greatest impact on productivity, reducing feed intake by 15 per cent, compared to five per cent for the early immature stages (up to six weeks after infection)."

"For this reason, some advice in the past has centred around postponing treatment for several weeks after cattle have been housed to ensure that fluke have had time to mature into adults. However, this new research clearly shows that the vast majority of fluke were already mature at housing, so this is the time to treat."

“Treating as soon as the cattle are housed will ensure feed conversion and growth rates are maximised which, given current feed prices, is absolutely vital,” says Ms MacGillivray.

The research was carried out during the autumn of 2010 and involved analysing livers from Ireland, South Wales and England. Of the livers analysed in Wales and Ireland, 98 per cent contained liver fluke, compared to 62 per cent of the livers processed in North East England, with evidence of previous fluke damage in many of those livers which did not contain fluke.

On average each infected liver contained 26 fluke. Of these only three per cent were early immature, so during the autumn months the majority (97 per cent) were late immature/adult stages.

Earlier this year Dr Phil Hadley, Senior Regional Manager with EBLEX, said that liver fluke costs beef producers between £25 and £30 per case of infection due to slower growth rates, lower feed conversion efficiencies and greater mortalities. He said: “Fluke could be costing beef farmers in Great Britain £14 million a year or as much as £16 million right across the supply chain.”

In terms of treatments, farmers have the option to choose a straight fluke product such as Trodax® or, alternatively, a combination endectocide such as IVOMEC® Super. Not only does IVOMEC® Super kill liver fluke, it also has the advantage of killing gastro-intestinal worms and treating external parasites such as lice and mange.

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