Communication from kill floor key to fluke control
The North Eastern region Texel Society had an excellent day of discussion and professional information at Pudden Hill, near Ashbourne, on Saturday last.
The event involved a display of lambs and breeding stock as well as veterinary advice and husbandry advice on all aspects of grazing sheep.
The veterinary advice was given by Frank O'Sullivan of Veterinary Ireland with Michael Mc Hugh of Teagasc advising on husbandry issues. Frank spoke about many diseases but he covered specific issues relating to liver fluke and pasture worms. The most interesting part of the talk centred on correct medicine usage and how to avoid medicine resistance on sheep farms. As the talk progressed, a very useful demonstration was displayed on the hows and whys of product resistance, which has moved on in recent years.
In years gone by, we used to speak about dosing an entire batch and then moving them onto a clean field. It was demonstrated by Frank that this method could lead to resistance building up on the farm. This would occur when the batch is dosed killing all worms sensitive to that wormer. Thus, the only worms left in the lambs would be of the resistant strain. Therefore, the clean pasture over time would become infected with resistant worms only. This sounds like an over-simplified concept and in fact it is. Real life worms do not follow any particular pattern but, broadly speaking, resistance could build up on a farm this way.
So nowadays vets are being encouraged to promote slight changes to the worming programmes. Firstly we should only dose when a worm or fluke dose is required. To help us make that decision we need to see more information flowing back from abattoirs through the farm vet and directly on to the farmer.
Norbert Coyle of Irish Country Meats in Navan was MC of Saturday's event and was keen to get that sort of information from the kill floor back to where it needs to go.
This is essential in fluke control on sheep farms. If livers are turning up in the factories with early stages of fluke infestation, then the farmer needs to know. He seeks veterinary advice on a control programme on the farm and he needs to see clean livers coming through on the next batch. This is essential in fluke control as testing at farm level is of little or no use.
The damage is done by the immature fluke before any eggs can be found in a faecal sample.