Monday, July 15, 2019

Treat for fluke to make most of grass

April 12, 2013 by  
Filed under Livestock

Animal health advisers are being reminded to ensure that farmers make the most of limited grass when their cattle are turned out this spring.

“Making the most of grass is key to the profitability of most cattle farmers,” said Fiona MacGillivray from Merial Animal Health.

“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 dose, many are unaware of the importance of controlling fluke infections during spring and summer.

Farmers should realise the benefits of giving a fluke treatment as part of their grazing treatment programmes, said Ms MacGillivray.

All stages of fluke development on pasture were affected by the climate, with mild and wet conditions favouring the parasites development.

Conditions experienced in recent years – and last year in particular – had led to a significant increase in the risk, geographical spread and seasonality of fluke infection.

For many farms, liver fluke is now a real threat to cattle at grass, said Ms MacGillivray.

Fluke infection could cause damage to the liver such that the productivity of an animal suffers significantly, said said.

Research showed that even low levels of infection, while not producing any obvious clinical effects, can depress live weight gain by up to 1.2kg/week1.

“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.

“Liver fluke is currently costing beef farmers between £25 and £30 per case. On this basis it is extremely cost effective to treat against this parasite.”

By giving a fluke treatment to grazing cattle post -turnout, fluke egg output could be minimised and the risk of infection later in the season reduced.

Such a treatment would 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 had been shown to give a 31% increase in weight gain over untreated animals and an 8% increase over those that were treated only for roundworms.

As it took about 10 weeks from cattle becoming infected at pasture to the stage where fluke were adult and egg-laying in the liver, treatment should be given 8-10 weeks after turnout.

Treatment at this time would kill adult fluke, reduce egg output and decrease pasture contamination. This timing also coincided in with the planned worming treatment programme on most farms.

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