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Many people will routinely treat for liver fluke early in the autumn, or as soon as the NADIS parasite forecast recommends.

However, Fluke Sentinel, a survey done by XL Vets in 2019 showed surprising results. Out of 24 participating “flukey” farms, only 11 showed fluke exposure in lambs in the period from June to December. Most of these showed up later in the year, with only one or two lambs out of the six testing positive. Even farms located reasonably close by showed positive cases months apart.

Testing before treatment can preserve flukicide efficacy.
Triclabendazole (TCB) is the only treatment able to kill all life stages of the parasite. Without TCB, we will struggle to control the damage caused by juvenile liver fluke infections. There is now firm evidence that resistance to this flukicide is developing, including locally. By treating only when there is evidence of infection, we will reduce the number doses given, and the opportunity for liver fluke to evolve resistance.

Testing before treatment can save money.Fluke Sentinel suggested there is a case to be made for a much more targeted approach to treatment with flukicides. Routine treatment in the autumn may be a waste of money and time in a busy part of the year. Remember that fluke treatments are not long acting. If stock are treated before peak infection has occurred and they remain on infected (flukey) pasture, they are still at risk.

Each farm is different. Weather patterns are becoming increasingly more variable. The fluke risk is changing each year. Monitoring the situation on an individual farm can help save money by eliminating unnecessary treatments.

COWS/SCOPS experts suggest you use this season’s lambs or calves as sentinels and test them using a blood test before considering treatment of the rest of the group. Blood testing will identify a liver fluke burden much earlier than dung testing. The test is relatively inexpensive, is accurate and can detect antibodies from 2 weeks after fluke infection. Samples can be taken by our Vet Tech team,
either on farm or at the surgery (sheep).

Action points:

Speak to your vet to arrange the test and to help interpret the results.

Knowledge of the farm’s history for liver fluke will also be useful.

Test six to ten sentinel lambs/calves every month. While these results are negative, there is no need to treat for fluke. If positive results are found, speak to your vet about further testing with a copro-antigen test if needed. Once confirmed as infected then you should treat the rest of the group.

If treatment is necessary, treat with a product to target the immature stages of fluke such as triclabendazole, closantel or nitroxynil.

If your farm has an issue with triclabendazole resistance, then avoid using this.

Avoid turning animals back onto

flukey pastures if possible, to avoid re-infection and further risk of disease.

Don’t forget store animals

Discuss quarantine dosing with your vet.

Appropriate treatments will depend on the age of the lambs/calves, time to finish and time of year.

When dosing, always remember the COWS/SCOPS 5 R’s:

Use the right product, treat the right animal, at the right time with the right dose in the right way.

More information can be found on these websites:

SCOPS – www.scops.org.uk

COWS – cattleparasites.org.uk/

NADIS – https://www.nadis.org.uk/disease-a-z/sheep/liver-fluke-control-in-sheep/

XL Vets – https://xlvets-farm.co.uk/fluke-sentinel


Checking for fluke in any dead stock is a cheap and easy way of monitoring for liver fluke. If the carcase is reasonably fresh, cut it open and examine the liver.

Make several cuts into the liver. If you have a smart phone in your pocket, take some pictures and we can provide a second opinion by email.

Abattoir feedback on livers can be useful, but remember that affected animals are less likely to reach slaughter weight early.


As you will be aware, there have been significant issues with lactating cow mastitis tube availability.

The information from the manufacturers is that the disruption to supply will continue at least until the autumn and probably beyond. This is a national problem and is outside our control or influence.

To assist with enabling appropriate prescribing of lactating and dry cow therapy, we are providing a subsidised culture and sensitivity service.

Culture and sensitivity on minimum 5 clinical or chronically infected (chronic high cell count) cows.

This is subsidised at present and has the following key benefits:

– Assess/review the primary cause(s) of clinical cases in your herd

– Assess/review the main cause of chronically infected cows

– Ensure the prescribed lactating cow tube for use in your herd is effective against the main causes of acute mastitis

– Ensure the prescribed dry cow tube for use in your herd is effective against the main causes of chronic infection

– Ensure that if a change in tube is required due to lack of availability, we are using an effective tube

The snap shot below highlights some recent findings in a couple of herds.

Note the resistance of Strep uberis to Cloxacillin one of the common antibiotics used to treat chronic infection at drying off

Note intermediate sensitivity of Staph aureus in example 2 to penicillin

These examples serve to highlight the importance and value of checking culture and sensitivity in your herd at least annually as it enables an evidence led approach to lactating cow and dry cow therapy when necessary.


Huge congratulations to Henry Willes and his family for raising over £13,000 for the Devon Air Ambulance Trust on Sunday 5 September.

Henry was inspired to organise a charity bike ride from Meeth to Braunton following his dad’s involvement in a serious accident on farm, which was attended by the Air Ambulance.

Team Torch were on hand to support the cause.

Henry’s fundraising page is: www.justgiving.com/fundraising/henry-willes32


Are you interested in using genomics in your herd to boost wellness, productivity and ultimately profit? Take advantage of the current 3 for 2 offer on Clarifide Plus which means you get all the health and wellness traits along with the standard production traits for just £26.50 per test.This offer runs until mid November.  Speak to Sophia Elworthy on 01769 610000 or email sophiaelworthy@torchfarmvets.com for more information.


Welcoming Hana

We recently welcomed Hana Ward to our team as a Clinical Scholar.

Hana graduated from the Royal Veterinary College in 2020 and will be undertaking a years’ internship with Torch.  She is interested in all areas of farm work, particularly dairy cow lameness and youngstock health. 

Outside of work, Hana enjoys rowing and hiking around the beautiful North Devon countryside.

Congrats to Jenny & Steph

We are pleased to report that vets Jenny Schmidt and Steph Prior have both recently achieved a Posgraduate Certificate in Veterinary Education (PGCertVetEd).

Combining their veterinary skills and experience with the latest in teaching practice will allow Jenny and Steph to further develop the range of valuable and insightful courses we offer our clients – well done to both!