Many farmers assume they have liver fluke (both beef and sheep) due to boggy or wet nature of their land and the rainfall/climate, but have never actually done any testing, post mortem examinations or had abattoir feedback to confirm this.
In the previous blog, Shailesh Shrestha modelled the potential impact of climate change on liver fluke in cattle and subsequent impacts on production. The impact of liver fluke within the sheep population especially in the uplands was not included in the analysis. Sheep suffer from acute, sub-acute and chronic fluke, whereas in cattle we mainly see the latter. This would mean losses were potentially greater in sheep – including lamb growth and finishing, involuntary culls and ewe productivity.
Many farmers assume they have liver fluke (both beef and sheep) due to boggy or wet nature of their land and the rainfall/climate, but have never actually done any testing, post mortem examinations or had abattoir feedback to confirm this. If we know that there is fluke in the environment, then certainly climate could alter the lifecycle and increase the challenge faced.
If there is no fluke in the environment then farmers may be using treatments unnecessarily – which is an ongoing education piece within RAFT, Bishopton and across the industry as precision livestock farming becomes key. Buying in disease is also significant risk in these areas where there are no fluke populations yet, especially when the climatic and environmental would be perfect of the fluke lifecycle to be complete.
Specifically we should also think about the risk of Triclabendazole (TBZ) resistant fluke and the impact of this in the future as this could be as great a risk to the uplands as climate. Triclabendazole is the only active ingredient able to kill all life stages of fluke. However, there is strong evidence that resistance to this flukicide has developed in parts of the UK.
There is an important role for vets and Suitably Qualified Persons to understand and educate farmers about control and management of fluke and this starts with identifying that there is disease present rather than assuming it is and protecting farms from buying in challenge (specifically from TBZ resistant fluke) which could make farming the uplands potentially completely uneconomically.
We need to focus on key areas to control the challenge if we are to mitigate potential effects of climate on productivity in the uplands.
XLVets carried out a fluke sentinel project last summer. This was using a network of XLVet farms to carry of surveillance looking for evidence of disease challenge across the country. The map shows areas where fluke infection has been detected (red flags) and areas where infection has not been detected (green flags). The page also has links to Moredun webpages with more information on liverfluke.
Rosie Lyle, Harriet Scott – RAFT Solutions
Photo DM Bruce
© 2018. ResULTS