Farmers have been reminded of the importance of ensuring their cattle have been given an effective treatment for liver fluke, as cases are have been described as “very prevalent” this year.

Speaking to a group of beef farmers suppling cattle to ABP Food Group, Liam Carroll who is a vet working for Blackwater Veterinary Clinic in Co. Meath said: “With the year that’s in it, liver fluke is very prevalent.

“The national fluke survey showed that of animals that were killed in the factory, 39% of herds had at least one animal with liver fluke damage and 12% of herds had at least one animal with live liver fluke present. “

The video below shows the presentation that the vet made to farmers at the event.

In the demonstration seen in the video, the vet showed farmers liver from two different cattle.

One of the livers had never been affected by liver fluke while another of the cattle had been affected by liver fluke.

Looking at the healthy liver, he said: “So you can see the nice homogenous surface here and the cross section through the liver here… you have nice healthy tissue. Obviously this liver is unaffected by fluke.”

Then looking at the cattle liver which had been impacted by fluke, he said: “Whereas in comparison, here we have quite a badly damaged liver. You’ve areas of consolidation here, and then looking through the cross sections of the liver, we’ve greatly increased bile ducts. We have some calcification here as well from scar tissue secondary to the liver fluke.”

The vet explained that naturally enough, the animal with the healthy liver will thrive better than the animal with the damaged liver.

“An animal with a damaged liver like this is going to have decreased average daily gains in comparison to an animal with a healthy liver that isn’t compromised by a parasite burden.”

Dosing for liver fluke

In terms of dosing cattle, the vet explained that “there’s no ‘one size fits all’ approach”.

“There’s probably 40 or 50 different products would work perfectly well for treating animals. It’s just to get the right combination for your farm and the type of cattle you have.”

He reminded farmers of Animal Health Ireland’s (AHI) initiative ‘Targeted Advisory Service on Animal Health’ (TASAH) which has been running for the last two years.

Liam Carroll explained that TASAH is “a free consult where a farmer signs up with their local vet”.

“They can get a free consult and get two free faecal egg count tests, which is brilliant for assessing the parasite burden under farms, and seeing the effectiveness of their dosing regime.

“It also lets them identify risk areas on their farm and then also come up with an appropriate dosing plan for the risks that exist on their individual farm with their local vet that’s aware of the issues on their farm and the history of the farms in the areas well.

“Hopefully with this scheme they can come up with a plan that’s practical for the farmer and that hopefully is going to benefit them financially in terms of animal performance and production.”