Fluke Control in Sheep and Cattle

Moredun-logoSummary written Philip Skuce BSc PhD and Ruth Zadoks DVM PhD

Taken from Moredun Foundation Newsheet Volume 5 No. 17 (2013)




  • Liver fluke disease is very much affected by the prevailing weather conditions, especially temperature and rainfall, so be aware of the implications of changing weather patterns. In general, fluke risk is highest following wet summers and mild winters.
  • Fluke control relies heavily on the strategic use of anthelmintic (flukicidal) drugs. It is important to remember that not all anthelmintics kill fluke and not all flukicides kill all stages of fluke.
  • It is vitally important to use the most appropriate flukicide for the life-cycle stage of fluke (and species) most likely, or confirmed, to be responsible for disease in your animals at the time.
  • As with any anthelmintic treatment, care should be taken to dose animals accurately, according to the manufacturer’s recommendations and, if possible, treatment should be followed up by an assessment of how well that treatment has worked. A faecal egg count reduction test (with pre- and post-treatment sampling) or a post-drench check are the most practical options for doing this at present.
  • Cattle can be a significant source of infection on farms with mixed grazing and should therefore be included in any fluke control programme.
  • Consider drainage, fencing and pasture management, where possible, in combination with strategic flukicide treatment of your flock or herd.
  • We have recently seen the emergence of another fluke parasite, rumen (or stomach) fluke. This is often found as co-infections with liver fluke and has been responsible for disease and deaths in young stock, both sheep and cattle. Differential diagnosis is important because treatment options would be different. Rumen fluke infection may be becoming increasingly common but clinical disease is still very rare at this time.
  • The fluke situation is an ever-changing picture - make use of all available information to assist with fluke control e.g. abattoir returns, post mortem results, diagnostic test results, regional fluke forecasts, farm history and the experience of your local veterinary surgeon to plan a customised fluke control strategy, tailored to the fluke situation on your farm.



sheep cover2 smMore information on flock health can be found on the DVD 'Managing Your Flock for Peak Health' - programme 2 in the series 'Sheep on Your Smallholding'.








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