The percentage of liver fluke incidents in beef cattle at slaughter has witnessed a reduction in cases this year when compared to the same period in the last few years.

According to Animal Health Ireland’s Beef Health Check Newsletter, on average, 1.4% of animals had live liver fluke parasites seen at slaughter and 7.2% had damage to the liver likely due to fluke.

Animals younger than 30 months-old tended to have lower levels of live liver fluke (1.1%) compared to older animals (2.4%), as well as lower levels of fluke damage (4.3%) compared to older animals (16%).

The low levels of live liver fluke are an indicator that the majority of farmers are treating appropriately at housing.

According to the newsletter, liver abscesses were seen in 3.7% of animals and pneumonia in 1.4% of cattle slaughtered.

For 2021 to date, 375,900 animals have been recorded from 18,050 different herds as part of the Beef Health Check Programme, with an average of 16,300 animals per week.

Of these animals, 69% were beef breeds, with 40% steers, 31% heifers, 10% young bulls and the remainder cows and bulls.

So far this year, 7,286 herds (40%) have had at least one animal with any sign of fluke (damage or live fluke) seen at slaughter.

The counties with the highest percentage of these herds were Donegal, Leitrim, Sligo, Roscommon and Cavan, ranging from 60-77% of herds.

Conversely, just over 10% of herds in the programme have never had a reported case of liver fluke at slaughter, including fluke damage, since 2016.

Additionally, there may be a number of herds that have become free of infection since the start of the programme.

However, herds should take extra care to quarantine animals moving onto the farm but otherwise, are likely to have no need for flukicides if other indicators such as faecal egg counts are negative for fluke.