AS lambing fast approaches, farmers are being urged to check ewe body condition and continue the fight against liver fluke this winter.
With widespread reports of thin ewes up and down the UK and confirmed cases of liver fluke disease increasing, nobody can afford to drop their guard, according to the Sustainable Control of Parasites in Sheep (SCOPS). Sheep farmer and SCOPS chairman Peter Baber said: “While there are a number of reasons why ewes may be thin, a liver fluke burden is still a major risk factor.
“The challenge from high levels of liver fluke on pasture continued throughout the first two months of 2013, and many farmers seem unaware that if sheep are put back on high risk pastures they will need to be re-treated with a flukicide five to six weeks later to avoid losses.
“This means treatments are required more frequently than farmers are used to, and SCOPS suspects that there is also confusion because some products used are persistent against worms, but not against liver fluke.”
SCOPS also says farmers need to start planning ahead now to minimise the impact of liver fluke next season.
Lesley Stubbings, independent sheep consultant and member of the SCOPS steering group, said: “We don't know what the weather will bring this year, but there are some steps farmers should be taking which will limit the damage later in 2013 and into 2014.”