With a very dry spring in some regions followed by a wet summer, the timing of peak fluke risk this year could be different across the country.
Reports of cases of fluke have started to come in from some regions, however these are variable, highlighting the unpredictability of fluke this year.
Testing before treatment can save money
While it may be tempting to treat animals for fluke early in the autumn, this may be a waste of time and money and offers no protection against disease if animals become infected later in the year.
COWS/SCOPS experts suggest you use this season’s lambs as sentinels and test them using a blood test before considering treatment of the main flock.
Fluke treatments have no persistency and, therefore, do not protect animals against re-infection. If sheep are treated before peak infection has occurred and they remain on infected (flukey) pasture, they are still at risk.
Each farm is different and monitoring the situation on an individual farm can help save money.
Professor Diana Williams, from the University of Liverpool, said: “Farmers are increasingly using blood tests on lambs to check for infection in their sheep, because this is the best diagnostic test at this time of year.
“The test can detect infection much earlier than faecal methods, which rely on the liver flukes being more mature. Lambs are ideal as an early warning because they can only have picked up liver fluke this season.”