Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Mid-summer treatment can prevent acute fluke in cattle

June 29, 2018 by  
Filed under Livestock

Fluke in cattle is expected to be a particular risk this season, with the wet winter making a mid-summer treatment vital to prevent significant losses.

Farmers who resorted to grazing cattle earlier this year because of a forage shortage could see an earlier risk. This is because the mud snail, which is the fluke’s intermediate host, will have thrived in the damp and wet conditions, despite the brief cold snap seen at the start of 2018.

There will be a build-up of infective metacercariae on many pastures, which develop into immature fluke when ingested. Additionally, if cattle were not turned out of housing clean of fluke, they will have added to the pasture burden.

Cattle in risk areas may need a mid-summer treatment to prevent costly losses, says Zoetis vet Dave Armstrong. “It is important to remember that both immature and adult fluke cause production loss, therefore, waiting to treat is counterproductive if you have fluke on your farm.”

Production losses

Fluke infected cattle can take 80 days longer to reach slaughter weight, costing between £25-35 extra per head, according to AHDB figures. When selecting treatment options mid-season, farmers should also consider the age of the fluke they are treating for.

Studies have also showed fluke to cause reduced reproductive performance in bulls, reduced conception rates in herds, increased age to 1st oestrus of 39-days and, in adults, an increased calving interval of 4.7 days on affected farms2.

Dr Armstrong adds: “Because a cow’s liver is bigger, they can tolerate a greater fluke burden meaning you won’t see sudden deaths like you would in sheep. However, you will see subclinical disease, which can be costly” he says.

Many fluke treatments focus on killing egg-laying adults, resultantly, most immature fluke will still be present, these will continue to cause damage as they migrate through the liver. These will then go on to develop into adult fluke.

A dual-purpose product containing moxidectin and triclabendazole has been found to be 90% effective against early immatures and 99.9% against adults. This is compared to products containing closantel, which only killed 26.8% of early immatures and 99.3% of adults.

Dr Armstrong adds: “Your advisor will be able to give you the best advice of which products to use, depending on your farm’s situation.”

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