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Fluke Control – Product Choice and Timing Critical

As we move into the winter months and cattle come into the shed apart from the obvious hike ration costs our thoughts should turn to Fluke control. Aidan Murray, Teagasc Beef Specialist has more guidance on choosing the right product to use at the right time

We know several things about liverfluke in cattle;

1)  They don’t develop immunity to liverfluke

2)  Areas such as the south west, west and northwest tend to have a higher incidence level than other parts of the country and

3)  According to the latest figures from the ICBF Health Check programme, about 7-8% of cattle going through factories are showing some level of liver damage due to fluke.

Acting on faecal sample results

For those of you in BEEP-S that have taken faecal samples and got the results back they may or may not have shown evidence of liverfluke. For those of you receiving a positive result back then you need to treat. For those of you getting back a negative result interpret it with caution. Look back at the history of the farm, your location, check results of animals recently gone through the factory this might be far more indicative of what is going on and whether you should treat or not.

Table 1 below shows the various active ingredients used in flukicides and the stage of fluke that they control.

Chosing a suitable dose

Once an animal at pasture picks up fluke it starts to develop through the various stages until it reaches the adult stage which takes about 12 weeks. So an animal being housed today could potentially have the last adult fluke mature in 12 weeks time.

The implication of this is to get your timing and product choice correct.

Example 1:  If cattle are only housed 2-3weeks and you want to treat then, ideally you should choose a product with Triclabendazole as the active ingredient which will control all stages including early immatures.

Example 2: By delaying treatment for 6-8 weeks after housing, you open up the number of suitable products available as Closantel, Nitroxynil and Rafoxanide become effective.

Choosing a product that only kills adult fluke essentially means delaying treatment for 10-12 weeks after housing.

So the key message is to identify what active ingredient is in the product you have bought and then decide when the most suitable time to treat. 

Other points

  • Farmers that have used the nitroxynil product Trodax with its characteristic orange staining will find that is no longer available. It had a concentration of 34% nitroxynil but according to some merchants they have sourced other nitroxynil products which vary in concentration from 25-34%.
  • For animals destined for slaughter in the next few months care needs to be taken that the long withdrawal period is adhered to.
  • From the end of January 2022 we will need to get a veterinary prescription for dosing products including coccidiostats.

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The Teagasc Beef Specialists issue an article on a topic of interest to suckler & cattle farmers every Wednesday here on Teagasc Daily Find more on Teagasc Beef here.

For any further information or assistance contact your local Teagasc Office here: Advisory Regions.