Farm Ireland

Friday 15 December 2017

Target your flukicides

Michael Gottstein

Liver fluke has been a major pest on both cattle and sheep farms over the past few years. The wet years of 2008 and 2009 caused such an increase in mud snail numbers that even on 'non-fluke' farms the parasite started to cause problems.

From a sheep farmer's point of view, there are two types of liver fluke infections.

The first, and most dangerous, is acute fluke, which is caused by hundreds of immature fluke munching their way through the liver and causing massive damage in the process. Often lambs with this condition will just die suddenly even though they may be in good body condition.

The problem with acute fluke is that there are relatively few products that kill immature fluke. Therefore, where acute fluke has been diagnosed, it is essential that a product that is effective against immature fluke is used.


The other type of fluke infection is chronic fluke, often seen in older sheep and essentially caused by mature fluke that sit in the bile ducts and drink the animal's blood.

Poor body condition, a bottle appearance under the jaw and loose wool are symptoms frequently seen with this condition. When treating sheep with this condition there is much more scope in terms of product choice.

As sheep farmers, we need to get away from trade names and start looking at the active ingredients that are in the flukicide. In my experience, using trade names has led to many mix-ups where sheep farmers have used products that did not work on their farms but were unaware because the active ingredient was being sold under a different trade name.

Also Read

There are five different families of flukicides -- get to know them and when buying a product check the active ingredient and do not buy them based on brand/trade names.

Table 1 below contains the various flukicide families and shows what stages of fluke they are effective against.


You should also bear in mind the withdrawal period of the product you are using. Different trade names have different withdrawal periods, even though they may contain the same active ingredient.

For example, take a farmer who has lambs that are within a few weeks of going to slaughter when he is informed by the abattoir that his last batch of lambs had acute fluke.

The treatment options for acute fluke restrict him to the active ingredients, Closantel, Nitroxynil, Rafoxanide and Tricalbendazole, all of which have different withdrawal periods, depending on the brand name.

Their withdrawal period ranges are: Closantel, 18-77 days; Nitroxynil, 60 days; Rafoxanide, 56-60 days; and Triclabendazole, 31-56 days, depending on the brand.

Therefore, it is essential for the farmer to not only get a product that has the appropriate active ingredient but also to get one that has the shortest possible withdrawal period so his lamb sales will not be interrupted.

Indo Farming