A GUIDE has been launched to help farmers control fluke in their cattle.

The COWS (Control of Worms Sustainably) industry group, with input from Moredun and other partners, has provided ten tips for farmers to help them prevent liver fluke disease in their cattle.

Fluke is estimated to cost the UK agriculture industry about £300m a year. Liver condemnations alone cost £3.2m in 2010.

Evidence suggests that the amount of infection has increased considerably in recent years and there are growing concerns about anthelmintic resistance, particularly to triclabendazole, The COWS group is urging cattle farmers to identify risk of fluke on their farms, ensure they treat it properly and avoid drug resistance.

Their one-page factsheet – which can be viewed and downloaded free at cattleparasites.

co.uk – suggests that to effectively control liver fluke farmers should:

  • Identify high-risk grazing areas of fluke;
  • Ask for abattoir feedback on any liver rejections;
  • Investigate fluke-related losses in sheep;
  • Treat cattle using the most appropriate drug, most suitable for the time of year and the age/types of cattle involved;
  • Always administer anthelmintics effectively (refer to COWS and SCOPS guidelines);
  • Consider if you need to reduce pasture contamination levels in spring/summer;
  • Remember to repeat the treatment if necessary;
  • Have an effective control plan for cattle that reduces the risk of drug resistance;
  • Institute quarantine measures on all incoming stock;
  • Be prepared.

Prof Jacqui Matthews, deputy director of the Moredun Research Institute and steering panel member for COWS, said: “The COWS industry group has produced some excellent information to help farmers prevent production losses in their animals due to liver fluke.

“Moredun is delighted to be working with COWS and its partners and circulate practical guidance for UK cattle farmers.

“It is imperative, though, that farmers continue to discuss liver fluke treatment choices with their vet or suitably qualified person as part of their specific herd health plan.”