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Treating for liver fluke provides a return on investment

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Treating liver fluke effectively in beef cattle is worthwhile because it delivers a return on investment according to leading cattle vet John Lalor. Based in Navan, County Meath, John advises large-scale beef feed lots both here and on the Continent. The companies he works with can be running 1000 cattle or more.

He says: "When you have that quantity of animals, even the smallest increases in growth or thrive, which you can achieve by correctly administering herd health, can make a big difference and turn into a lot of money."

"I don't have a traditional role as a vet, but I spend a lot of time working with the farm manager or farm owner advising them on the most up-to-date methods for growing their cattle and keeping them as healthy as possible. Essentially it's production medicine, and maximising the profitability for the farmer."

"I see liver fluke in virtually all Irish cattle, whether it is Irish cattle in Ireland or abroad. In my opinion the last few years of really wet weather have turned liver fluke into a year-round problem, rather than a seasonal one.

"Traditionally we would use a flukicide during the August to November period, but in the last few years we have moved to a year-round protocol."

John uses Ivomec® Super on his clients' cattle. He says: "There are three reasons why - it's tried and trusted; we get consistent results; and you really see the benefit in the animals. You don't need to be a vet to see it; the farmers can see it for themselves."

Beef farmer Thomas Flynn is one of John's clients. He finishes around 400 cattle every winter which are sold to Dawn Meats at Ballyhaunis. For Thomas the economics of using a premium brand of flukicide add up.

He says: "As a result of using Ivomec® Super we get better thrive, better overall performance and quicker finishing. We worked out that feed costs come out at around €3.50 per animal per day. When you multiply that by 400, every extra day it takes to finish them is costly. Any saving of a small amount on the dosing regimen becomes insignificant when you relate it to the overall cost of feed and the lack of performance."

Thomas gets feedback from Dawn Meats including cases of liver fluke infection and he says that he has had zero cases to date. Getting feedback from the processor is something that John Lalor encourages his clients to do.

He says: "I get a lot of feedback from the factories, and it's something that I'd recommend all farmers to try to do. Obviously using a well-respected, well-made flukicide, the factories have more livers that they can use which helps everybody. There is more money on the table for the farmer and for the meat factory.

"Particularly nowadays with the very tight margins that most beef farmers are working on, what I say to farmers is, it's not what your spending, it's the return you get from that spend. That's what a lot of farmers, and particularly the bigger guys, are now looking at. Just because a certain product might be cheaper or more expensive isn't the factor, it is how much return do you get for the Euro you spend on that product. That's the real key and that's why I like Ivomec® Super."

According to Merial Animal Health Veterinary Adviser Callum Blair the best option is to treat straight away at housing. He says: "Some previous advice had suggested treatment several weeks after housing but we recommend treating immediately at housing. In cattle it is the adult stage which has the biggest impact on productivity and recent research has shown that the majority of fluke are at adult stage at housing1".

References:

1. MacGillivray et al. An abattoir survey to determine the population profile in the autumn of fasciola hepatica in condemned bovine livers from Ireland and the United Kingdom. Intern J Appl Vet Med Vol 11, No 1, 2013

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