Livestock farmers in the North West should be particularly vigilant for signs of liver fluke this winter according to the Department for Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

While forecasts for other areas of the country are mostly moderate, with a low risk in the South East, the Department urges farmers to keep an eye out for disease and ill thrift during the remainder of the autumn and winter months.

Merial Animal Health Veterinary Adviser Callum Blair says beef farmers in the North West should certainly consider treating for liver fluke.

“The adult stage of the liver fluke parasite has the greatest effect on productivity, reducing feed intake by up to 15% even where infestations are low, so it’s vitally important that farmers move to treat cattle as soon as possible after housing.”

Research has shown that most liver fluke have reached the late immature/adult stage at housing so delaying treatment is potentially counter-productive. Treating at housing will help to ensure that farmers receive the maximum benefit from their feed straightaway.

With fluke disease in growing cattle shown to reduce live weight gain by up to 1.2kg/week, the consequences of leaving herds untreated include increased feed requirements and longer finishing times. This all adds up to unnecessary extra cost for beef farmers at a time when they can least afford it.