The dry spring and summer has meant liver fluke poses a lower risk to livestock this autumn, according to the latest forecasts by veterinary researchers.
However, on heavier land, or on farms where livestock have access to wet areas, fluke infections are already evident.
“We have seen a significant proportion of both serum antibody and coproantigen tests come back positive. This suggests some animals encountered a fluke challenge as early as mid-July,” said Dr Philip Skuce from the Moredun Research Institute.
Liver fluke treatments have been complicated this season by the withdrawal of Trodax from the market
His advice to farmers is to use diagnostic tests on livestock before making decisions about fluke treatments.
Post-mortem examinations for fluke can also be conducted in abattoirs and this can also highlight fluke burdens in other livestock groups on the farm of origin.
Liver fluke treatments have been complicated this season by the withdrawal of Trodax from the market.
It was the only nitroxinil-based flukicide available in the UK and its withdrawal means there are now fewer active ingredients available for fluke control.
Five active ingredients are available for fluke control in cattle, and three of these are only effective in the adult stages
There are now four active ingredients that can be used on sheep, with two of these only able to kill adult fluke. Five active ingredients are available for fluke control in cattle, and three of these are only effective in the adult stages.
“We need to be more careful than ever to make informed decisions about timing of treatment and product choice. We cannot afford to guess. There are good diagnostic tests available and we urge livestock farmers to consult their vet,” said Rebecca Mearns, president of the Sheep Veterinary Society.