Farm Ireland

Sunday 17 February 2019

Treating housed cattle for liver fluke: a guide

Kevin O'Sullivan

WHEN you are treating your cattle for liver fluke at housing, are you doing it correctly?

If you are successfully treating for fluke the animals should be free of the parasite for the winter housing period as they cannot become infected with more fluke while they are housed indoors.

If fluke dosing is not done correctly, growth rates will be below where they should be and, depending on the level of infection, they may be considerably below target.

A number of factors are involved in a successful outcome to fluke dosing including using the right product at the right time.

Using the correct dose rate and administering it in the right way are of equal importance when it comes to achieving a successful outcome.

A common mistake made on some farms when it comes to treating cattle at housing for liver fluke is assuming that one treatment for liver fluke is enough to kill all of the fluke present.

One-dose liver fluke treatment will be successful if you follow one of three possible treatments.

These are as follows:

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(1) drench cattle two weeks after housing with a product that has triclabendazole in it;

(2) If you are using a product that kills immature fluke (these are mostly injection and pouron products) you wait for at least seven weeks after housing before you give it; 


(3), if you are using a product that only kills mature fluke - these are mostly injection and oral drench products - you wait for at least 10 weeks after housing before you dose with it.

In all other situations you will have to treat cattle twice over the winter for fluke. 

For example, if you are using a product two weeks after housing (which is a common time to treat for stomach worms and lice) that controls immature and adult fluke, you will have to treat them again five weeks later with a similar fluke product. 

This is in order to kill the early immature fluke that are not affected by fluke doses other than triclabendazole. 

In addition, make sure you are accurately estimating the weight of the cattle that you are treating in order to decide on the correct dose rate. For a group of cattle, base your dose rate on the heaviest animal in the group.

If there is a very wide range in weights, you may have to separate the animals into groups based on weight and adjust the rate accordingly.

Fluke injections are subcutaneous, which means they are to be given under the skin and not into the muscle.


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