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Treat livestock for fluke and make the most of the grazing season

Merial-Sanofi_Logo_rgbAnimal health advisers should ensure that farmers make the most of grass when their cattle are turned out this spring according to Sioned Timothy from Merial Animal Health. "Making the most of grass is key to the profitability of most cattle farmers," says Ms Timothy, "So it's really important, particularly given the current high cost of feed, that once animals are turned out, they are able to maximize their growth potential from grass.

"While most farmers are aware that fluke can affect cattle during the winter months, and focus on giving a housing dose, many are unaware of the increasing importance of controlling fluke infections during the spring and summer months and the benefits of giving a fluke treatment as part of their grazing treatment programmes."

All stages of fluke development on pasture are affected by the climate, with mild and wet conditions favouring the parasites development.  As such, the conditions experienced in recent years, and last year in particular, have led to a significant increase in the risk, geographical spread and seasonality of fluke infection. Indeed for many farms, liver fluke is now a real threat to cattle at grass.

Liver fluke

Fluke infection can cause damage to the liver such that the productivity of an animal suffers significantly. Research shows that even low levels of infection, while not producing any obvious clinical effects, can depress live weight gain by up to 1.2kg/week1.

Ms Timothy points out: "Such a reduction in live weight gain increases the time to finishing and obviously every additional day that an animal is kept on farm costs the farmer money! In fact according to recent figures, liver fluke is currently costing beef farmers between €29 and €35 per case2. On this basis it is extremely cost effective to treat against this parasite."

Effects of treatment at grass

By giving a fluke treatment to grazing cattle post -turnout, fluke egg output can be minimised and the risk of infection later in the season reduced. Such a treatment will also remove fluke from the animal and improve live weight gain from the farmer's cheapest source of feed. Animals treated at grass for fluke and worms have been shown to give a 31% increase in weight gain over untreated animals and an 8% increase over those that were treated only for roundworms3.

As it takes approximately 10 weeks from cattle becoming infected at pasture to the stage where fluke are adult and egg-laying in the liver, treatment should be given 8 to 10 weeks after turnout. Treatment at this time will kill adult fluke, reduce egg output and decrease pasture contamination. This timing also ties in with the planned worming treatment programme on most farms.

Farmers can choose to use a straight fluke product such as Trodax® alongside an existing worm treatment. Alternatively an ideal solution is a combination endectocide product such as Ivomec® Super which, as well as killing fluke, also has the advantage of providing persistent protection against roundworms, so this can be used to replace a wormer-only treatment at grass.

References:

1. Johnson EG, Agri-practice, 1991. 2. EBLEX data  3.  Loyacano et al., Veterinary Parasitology 107, 2002.

Ivomec super Trodax

Merial-Sanofi_Logo_rgb Ivomec® Super injection for cattle contains ivermectin and clorsulon. Trodax® 34% w/v solution for injection contains nitroxynil. Ivomec® and Trodax® are registered trademarks of Merial Ltd. ©Merial Ltd 2016. All rights reserved. Legal category: POM-VPS (UK), LM (Ireland). Advice on the use of these or alternative medicines must be sought from the medicine prescriber. For further information refer to the datasheet, contact Merial Customer Support Centre on 0800 592699 (UK), 1850 783 783 (Ireland).

Use medicines responsibly. www.noah.co.uk/responsible