Adverse weather earlier this year has led to “an explosion” in levels of Liver Fluke, according to one agricultural expert. The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has advised farmers this week to ensure that any treatments used are effective against “immature Liver Fluke as well as mature” and to consider a second treatment four to six weeks after the first treatment so that risk is “minimised”.
Veterinary Advisor, Maura Langan said, “The conditions experienced throughout the summer support an explosion in the levels of Liver Fluke on pasture, and therefore the burden cattle and sheep are carrying will be greater”.
Ms Langan’s warning came just as the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine issued its ‘Liver Fluke Forecast and Alert’ which points to the fact that “infestation is very high in all areas of Ireland including the east and south east which have not usually been considered at risk areas”. “The high risk forecast issued by the Department is worrying, particularly for the east and south east where liver fluke has not really been a concern previously, and it should really serve as a prompt to all farmers to act now to treat livestock,” Ms Langan continued. “The consequences of a Liver Fluke infestation can be catastrophic to a herd and can have a profound effect on the productivity of growing and fattening cattle.”
Recent research shows that high levels of fluke infestation in cattle can reduce weight gains by a staggering 28%. Untreated Liver Fluke infections can also reduce the growth rates of double muscled Belgian Blue cattle by 2.15 kg/week and in cattle incurring losses of €40 up to €250 per head, as a result of the infection.