Livestock Farmers Looking Out for Fluke-Spreading Mud Snails

SCOTLAND, UK - Cattle and sheep farmers have been warned to look out for mud snails and any signs that their animals may have fallen prey to the parasites the snails carry.
calendar icon 22 July 2016
clock icon 2 minute read

At meetings across Dumfries and Galloway the risks of liver fluke and suggested control strategies have been discussed with experts from Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC). 

Heather Stevenson, a Vet with SRUC’s SAC Consulting in Dumfries, described how eggs produced by adult flukes pass out in livestock dung, hatch into larvae and live inside the mud snails for a while before emerging to stick onto blades of grass where they form cysts, ready to be eaten by other livestock.

“The host snails like wet muddy areas, not just obviously wet rushy fields, but frequently in intensively managed grassland with poached, trampled areas such as those found near a water trough, or a field drainage ditch,” explained Ms Stevenson.

“Liver fluke disease affects cattle as well as sheep,” commented Dumfries-based Michael Halliday, a consultant with the SAC Consulting Division of SRUC, who chaired the meetings. “It causes a loss of production, sickness and frequently death.”

Farmers can manage risk by grazing vulnerable stock on fields without wet patches. It is also important to consider the different medicines available for the treatment of fluke. As the main categories are effective against fluke of different sizes, they are best used at different times of the year.

“The important thing is to check the product’s active ingredient and if in doubt ask your vet for advice,” Ms Stevenson said.

The key take home messages for farmers were to consider the risk of mud snails being present in some or all fields and how this might impact on the stock grazed there at different times of the year. Take advice from the farm vet about testing the effectiveness of the various flukicides used on the farm.

Finally, farmers were advised to consider carefully what size of fluke they are targeting at different times of the year so as to minimise reliance on one single treatment.

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