On the farm throughout the course of the winter we finished a high number of hoggets and had a high turnover over stock over this period of time. One problem that we noticed on the farm this year that there were high levels of liver fluke noticed in the sheep.
The reason behind this problem lays with a few factors. Wet grazing conditions throughout parts of the winter increased the fluke burden on the farm. Also, the fact that the sheep are being bought throughout the marts there are sheep coming from a wide variety of different farmers, some better than others. It is unknown to me when sheep are purchased what that farms fluke status is, was there an effective fluke control programme? Was it from a particularly wet farm with high levels of fluke? I have no way of knowing the details therefore as a precaution all sheep that arrive on the farm are dosed for fluke and worm the minute they arrive.
Fluke causes serious implications on cost on the farm and therefore it is paramount that is managed correctly in order to minimise losses and boost farm performance and farm profitability. In the terms of buying in store lambs, there is little profit to be earned from each sheep so the way I see it it is a numbers game to try and earn any type of significant money. However, if one or two of these sheep in a batch die due to fluke it often wipes out the profit for that batch of sheep regardless of how well the other sheep thrive.
A batch of sheep that have been severely affected by liver fluke will be bad thrives and will often have a loss of appetite so it becomes increasingly difficult to put condition of the sheep to get them to a sustainable weight to get them to a finished factory weight.
In my situation blanket dosing for fluke upon entry works well for me and it is the only way I can be sure I am going to tackle the problem and the sheep previous situations are not known. Not every farm will have such as problem with fluke and you can liase with your factory to find out the numbers of your sheep’s livers that have been affected with fluke in the factory.
With this high level of fluke it has also the potential to affect my flock of ewes on the farm too. Therefore it is essential that I have a regular drenching programme for them as well as fluke in ewes has the potential to severely reduce the lamb crop on the farm and possibly result in ewe mortality.
With unpredictable and changeable weather conditions going forward coupled with a large number of fluke becoming resistant it is a problem that I see will be on the increase and it is something that all farms either alone or conjunction with their vet should be keeping a close eye on to try and combat the problem.