Liver fluke disease is still being identified as the cause of significant levels of animal mortality in some areas of the country. Farmers are being asked to maintain vigilance and review their control programme to ensure that all bases are covered.

Speaking on this week’s Teagasc Ovicast Sheep Programme, Seamus Fagan, Athlone Regional Veterinary Laboratory told Ciaran Lynch that postmortems as recent as this week had identified liver fluke as the cause of death in a number of ewes and young weanling cattle.

A mild and wet summer/autumn, followed by higher than normal winter temperatures, has extended the normal peak seasonal risk. Outwintered animals and housed animals that did not receive treatments to kill all larval stages are particularly at risk.

Chronic fluke currently presents the greatest risk, but there is also likely to still be significant levels of immature larvae present, highlighting the importance of using a product that treats at least mature and immature stages of the liver fluke life cycle.

Sustainable control

This week’s Teagasc hill sheep conference takes place on Thursday 15 February in the Glendalough Hotel, Glendalough, Co. Wicklow, A98 X9C1. Dr Philip Skuce, Moredun Institute will discuss sustainable control of liver fluke.

The presentation will focus on the threat of liver fluke across all sheep and also home in on threats unique to hill sheep.

Advice on assessing the environmental risk on a farm or in a particular field will be discussed, along with taking in to account climate/weather patterns and changing agricultural practices. Diagnostic tests, control programmes, flukicide resistance and ongoing research will also be addressed.