2014-02-26   facebook twitter rss

Do Your Dairy Cows Need Treatment for Fluke?

Dairy herd owners struggling with liver fluke should consider a pre-turnout, flukicide-only lactating cow treatment to clear out adult flukes.

“If fluke has been diagnosed, there’s a strong case for treating housed milking cows in March,” says MSD Animal Health veterinary adviser Mairéad O’Grady MVB, MRCVS.

Ian Graham, left, of MSD Animal Health, discussing the growing need on many farms to treat dairy cows for liver fluke before turnout, with some of the team at Riada Veterinary Centre, Ballymoney, from left, June Moore, Keith Laughlin and Sarah Falls.

Ian Graham, left, of MSD Animal Health, discussing the growing need on many farms to treat dairy cows for liver fluke before turnout, with some of the team at Riada Veterinary Centre, Ballymoney, from left, June Moore, Keith Laughlin and Sarah Falls.

“At this time of year stock have been housed for over four months so there should only be adult fluke present in the cattle. Therefore treatment now with oxyclozanide will kill adult flukes in the bile ducts and prevent them from laying eggs that could contaminate pasture.”

Fluke problems are escalating at the same time as available flukicide control options are being restricted. Consequently Mairéad urges milk producers to contact their advising veterinary practice and seek a diagnosis of the liver fluke situation and threat on their farm. This information can then be the basis of a discussion on the latest best practice flukicide usage.

“From a diagnostic point of view a bulk milk test is the starting point as it will show if your herd has been exposed to liver fluke. Even with a negative result you need to remain vigilant following this very wet winter, but if it is positive your vet will need to carry out further investigation. This may involve taking faecal samples for analysis or even blood sampling any thin or scouring animals.”

Mairéad O’Grady notes that it vitally important everyone works together to follow good codes of practice for the control of liver fluke.

“We can no longer afford to blanket treat large groups of animals and flukicide usage guidelines and milk withdrawal periods must be followed accurately. For example, oxyclozanide, available as Zanil™ in the UK, has a 72-hour milk withhold.

“It is also important to consider that some flukicide products, such as albendazole, have activity against gastro-intestinal worms. This may sound a great idea, but these wormer products should only be used when worms are actually a problem.

“If a product with activity against both fluke and worms is used when not needed, you may be inadvertently selecting for resistance in the worm population, which could cause significant problems in the future.”

MSD

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