Project updates as they happen
Sign up to parasite alerts
Farmers can sign up to parasite alerts at NADIS animal health skills.
NADIS publishes a monthly Parasite Forecast for farmers and vets based on detailed Met office data and the forecast. The Parasite Forecast outlines the parasitic challenge facing cattle and sheep in the different regions of the UK.
The Parasite Forecast is used to promote SCOPS and COWS recommendations in a seasonal context and underlines the importance of parasite control being part of a veterinary health plan. To see the latest forecast, please visit: https://nadis.org.uk/parasite-forecast/
Farmers can sign up to SCOPS – Sustainable Control of Parasites for disease and parasite forecast, please visit: https://www.scops.org.uk/forecasts/
Liver Fluke Post Mortem
Video and photos resources taken from the Liverfluke post mortem evening at Bainbridge Vets, Leyburn, with Davinia Hinde
Following the meeting that took place with Yorkshire Farmers in January, participants discussed feedback from their abattoirs, those that were able to get feedback had been ok so far. Farmers received the AHDB Beef and Lamb information booklets that give guidance on likely causes of damage to liver and other organs.
Three farmers in the group had done their own post-mortem on sheep that had died, to look for evidence of fluke in the liver and bile-ducts.
The Yorkshire farmers were very keen to learn more about this and arranged a workshop with Davinia Hinde, Bainbridge Vets, Leyburn, was arranged to show them how to do it, enabling them to monitor the presence of fluke if sheep died over lambing time.
The video and photos below are available as resources taken from the post mortem evening.
****It is important to wear gloves and overalls when preforming this on farm, and always wash your hands thoroughly afterwards****
Image 1, Davinia opened up the dead ewe which was from a local farm, the group were shown where to make the incision and how to cut out the liver, the incision was made just below the rib cage on the right-hand side of the ewe – if you make a smaller incision it is easy to tie the wool up together so the rest of the insides don’t all come out which makes it is easier for the knacker man to collect.
She brought out part of the liver to inspect for signs of liver fluke; the liver had begun to decompose from this ewe, however no signs of fluke were found, the bile ducts were clear and the liver looked fine.
Image 2, For the second ewe that was opened up (which was also from another local farm) was also free from fluke and had no signs of scaring from previous infestations. The bile ducts were clear as well, notice the red dark pink healthy look of this liver.
Image 4, There was some calcification (circled in red) in the liver of this ewe which is a sign of a diet in balance, but again no fluke or signs of previous liver fluke damage. Red arrows pointing to the bile ducts, where adult fluke live.
Yorkshire and Cumbria farmer meetings in January
Eight farmers in Yorkshire and six in Cumbria met to discuss their experience with sheep health last year, their progress with the treatments App and findings from tests for the presence of liver fluke in their flocks.
No-one had seen any signs of liver fluke in lambs last summer and over the autumn. The dry year had reduced numbers.
Testing for liver fluke eggs
Farmers had been offered a free test for presence of fluke eggs in faecal samples in June and/ or August before doing routine fluke treatments in the autumn. Most samples had not had enough fluke eggs present in the August samples to warrant doing a second test to measure the efficacy of triclabendazole.
The end of January/ early February 2019 is a good time to check again for the presence of fluke, before routine treatments at scanning (especially if not treated for fluke since early December). The project can offer free tests for the presence of an antibody to fluke – which may be sooner and more reliable then looking for fluke eggs in the sample. By doing another sample from the same sheep 2 weeks after treatment, the test can be used to get an indication if treatment by triclabendazole has been effective (not fully accurate).
Those who could get feedback from their abattoirs had been ok so far. Three farmers had done their own post-mortem on sheep that had died, to look for evidence of fluke in the liver and bile-ducts. The Yorkshire farmers were very keen to learn more about this and arranged a workshop with one of the farm vets to show them how to do it.
Targeted treatments and the life stages of liver fluke
A proven way to reduce the incidence of liver fluke is to target dosing with different products at different times of year, to target the most likely life stages, and avoid over-use of triclabendazole when it is most likely to be only adult fluke in the sheep. Targeted treatments for adult fluke currently (usually late winter and spring) are likely to reduce the shedding of eggs onto pasture. One farmer had done this regularly (4 treatments a year) for a few years and noticed reduced incidence of fluke, and now only needed 3 treatments per year.
Farmers can reduce infection rates by grazing more susceptible animals in less risky areas. Treating according to the conditions may mean that treatment patterns need to change every year. Copies of the life-cycle of the liver fluke and its stages along with the latest version of the AHDB Beef and Lamb parasite Control Guide were distributed.
Phone application feedback
The use of the treatment App was discussed, and some farmers had recently updated the information on it. One farmer mentioned that it would be valuable to know which flock (moor sheep or mules) had had which treatments. This is to be added to the App.
Use of the National Animal Disease Information Service parasite alerts was discussed and 3 farmers in the group look at it regularly, especially for Nematodirus in spring. They find it is worth registering for email updates: http://www.nadis.org.uk/
A busy time of year
It’s a busy time of year for our participating farmers. In September and October breeding and store sheep are sold and bought at sheep sales all over the north every week. This year, because of low rainfall and Brexit uncertainty, sale prices have been low and feed costs are high.
Composite faecal egg count reduction tests
In August and September, farmers sent faecal samples from their flocks in to Liverpool University for the standardised composite faecal egg count reduction tests (FECRT). This test detects the level of efficacy of the flukicide Triclabendazole (TBZ). The dry season reduced the incidence of liver fluke and there were low numbers or no fluke eggs in the samples. This made it impossible to determine the efficacy of the flukicide most of the flocks, but the reduced level of fluke has improved sheep health. This may change as the year progresses, but the FECRT will not be able to be repeated until February or August 2019.
Farmer meetings in Cumbria and Yorkshre
Farmer Meetings took place in August at Braithwaite and September in Leyburn to go through the phone application, data collation, how to interpret the dashboard and review flock health plans. It was a chance to talk to the project members about the next steps for the year.
Fight the Fluke animation by The Moredun Foundation
The Moredun Foundation have a series of useful animations, one in particular in relation to Liver Fluke, called ‘Fight the Fluke’. The animation was funded by the Moredun Foundation and AHDB. You can watch the animation here:
Liver Fluke talk presented by Iain Richards, Veterinary Ecologist at this year’s 160th Great Yorkshire Show
Iain Richards MRCVS, Veterinary Ecologist, Cumbria joined by Joanne Briggs, Communications Manager and Policy Manager for England, National Sheep Association and Dr Amanda Carson from APHA to speak directly to farmers about an environmental approach to controlling Liver fluke.
Attendees included UK and European farmers with an congregation from Hungary who suffer similar issues.
You can download Iain Richard’s presentation here: Faciolosis GYS 2018
If you would like to learn more about the project, please click here.
Event to showcase EIP-Agri across Europe
14th May 2018
Kate Gascoyne, Carol Moffat (The Farmer Network) and Holly Jones (YAS) will present at the EIP-Agri event in York on the 20th and 21st June. The aim of the event is to:
- Build on recent announcements that the Government wants to help farmers deliver sustainable food production and to enhance our environment.
- Showcase examples of model farmers
- Highlight the support there is available to assist farmers wanting to use innovation to grow their business.
Additionally, it will:
- Provide an update on EIP-Agri England projects and opportunities
- Bring Operational Groups together, to share knowledge and to provide sign-posting for them as to other resources available
- Provide an update from the European Commission on programmes, funding and knowledge transfer and legacy.
Phone application to track Liver Fluke disease launched
8th May 2018
The initial phone application which will support the data gathering process for Liver Fluke disease has now been developed and installed. The phone application will be rolled out farmers to begin data recording. It has been tested on latest iPhone and Android mobile devices. The app can support data recording without the need for internet access. Users are able to synchronise when online later. Captured data can be exported into excel for project analysis.
Hill Sheep Health North website launched
Farmers share Liver Fluke Management Routines
1st April 2018
Hill farmers in the Cumbria and Yorkshire Dales groups have shared their liver fluke management routines and many have completed questionnaires with more details as the Hill Sheep Health North project starts to gain traction.
Some farmers will complete these after lambing and then will start to use the prototype phone App to help gather data about ongoing treatments. We plan to have on-farm meetings at the start of June for further discussion and to iron out any issues with using the App.
Liver Fluke specialist Iain Richards to speak Great Yorkshire Show
We are delighted to confirm that Iain Richards BVSc CertVA CertSHP MVetSci MRCVS, Veterinary Ecologist, will be joining us at this year’s 160th Great Yorkshire Show to speak with farmers about Liver Fluke and the Hill Sheep Health North Project. Further details will be announced in due course. You can follow Iain on twitter here: @Lakesvet
Meetings held with Farmers to introduce Hill Sheep Health North project
22nd and 23rd January
With special thanks to The Farmer Network, the first two farmer meetings held with farmers at Askrigg, Cumbria and Newton Rigg, Yorkshire, were a great success introducing the Hill Sheep Health North Project to the farming community.
Both groups were asked to identify key parasite problems, how they identify the problems and deal with the issues and how can farmers develop a better understanding of what to do.
Diseases identified included: Ticks, Foot rot – CODD, pneumonia, scab, lice and Parasitic Gastroenteritis to name a few. The groups discussed current flock treatments, how they record data now and next steps for the project.