THE PREDICTION by the National Animal Disease Information Service (NADIS) for a high risk of liver fluke disease in North, West and central Scotland, West Wales and Cornwall this winter have been borne out by incidences recorded over recent months.
Given the risk to both sheep and cattle, SCOPS and COWS have come together to remind producers that the high-risk warning followed a year with one of the wettest summers on record and higher than average rainfall in many parts of Great Britain. The risk in Eastern Scotland and parts of South West and Northern England is predicted to be medium and most of Central and Eastern regions of England were forecast to be at low risk.
Recent reports from members of SCOPS and COWS, including SAC Veterinary Services, APHA and others, support this general situation – but there are localised variations. This means it is very important that farmers talk to their vet, SQP or advisor to find out what is happening in their area, and decide what tests and risk assessment they need to carry out to investigate the situation on their own farm.
Now that we are into late winter, more cases of chronic and sub–acute liver fluke are being seen as the parasite matures in the host. Highlights of reports collated by SCOPS and COWS are as follows:
REPORTS FROM AROUND THE UK
In Scotland, SRUC report that in terms of liver fluke incidence as a % of total submissions, 2017/18 has been the highest winter level since 2012/13.
In Wales, numerous cases have been reported by APHA. In January and February, cases of chronic fluke in Western England and West Wales are reported.
In Cumbria, cases of sub-acute and chronic liver fluke have been reported with chronic liver fluke in North Yorkshire.
In the Bristol area, abortions in a flock have were associated with the presence of liver fluke disease.
A large Welsh abattoir reports a further increase in lamb liver condemnations due to fluke, rising from 2.8% in October to 5% in November and from 7.3% in January to 10.5% in February. This is significantly higher than the same month a year ago (7.8%) and underlines the fact that this winter is carrying a higher risk.
SCOPS and COWS provide this advice to producers:
Reports of disease continue mainly from high-risk areas, but farmers should seek local information, assess risk and use tests, abattoir feedback and post mortems to inform on-farm control measures.
Re‐infection (when treated animals are put back on to contaminated areas) is still a concern. Farmers need to remember that flukicides do not have any persistent activity. We also now need to be thinking about chronic / sub-acute disease as fluke mature and damage the liver.
Poor pregnancy scanning results in sheep may be the first indication that there is a liver fluke problem on the farm and may be limited to only one group of sheep depending on the group’s autumn/winter grazing history.
Make sure clostridial vaccinations are up-to-date. Black disease is a major cause of losses in cattle (and sheep) that have livers damaged by liver fluke.
While most cases of disease are associated with sheep, cases of liver fluke are being reported in cattle (11% of cattle submissions to SRUC have been associated with liver fluke disease this winter). It is essential that cattle farmers are aware of the risks and discuss sampling/testing/flukicide options for different stock with their vet to avoid disease.
Product choice is critical.
This latter part of the liver fluke season is the time to consider taking pressure off triclabendazole products and swap to alternatives. These include closantel, nitroxynil and products that kill adult fluke, such as oxyclozanide, albendazole (and clorsulon for cattle).
Note restrictions on the use of flukicides in milking cows.
The SCOPS website and COWS website have specific pages providing information on suitable products to use.
Last Golden Eagle of Wales found dead
WALES will no longer see the golden eagle fly through the skies after the last of its kind was found dead by a walker in Abergwesyn Valley, near Llanwrtyd Wells.
The Golden Eagle was native to Wales, Europe and North America and due to human persecution had begun to die out, the last breeding pair being found in Snowdonia in 1850. It is one of the best known birds of prey in the Northern Hemisphere, but unfortunately Wales will not see the bird in action for a very long time.
The female bird of prey was being watched and followed by the presenter of Spring Watch, Iolo Williams, and will appear in the last episode of the latest show ‘Iolo: The Last Wilderness of Wales.’
The company behind the television show which captures the highlights of Welsh wildlife, Aden Productions, commented on the extinction of the Golden Eagle. Taking to twitter, a statement read:
“Our whole crew was shocked and saddened to hear about the demise of our beloved Cambrians golden eagle, the last golden eagle to fly wild in Wales. We hope our final episode of Iolo: The Last Wilderness of Wales is a fitting tribute to her.”
It is still not known how the female bird died, leaving questions for bird lovers, but plans are being made by the Eagle Reintroduction Wales project to reintroduce the bird of prey back into Welsh wildlife is under way. However, it is explained that this is not a simple process. They will firstly need Natural Resource Wales to issue a license which does take time.
The Golden Eagle has not left the UK completely and can still be found in the far North of Scotland.
Big Farmland Bird Count returns
JIM EGAN has sent out a rallying cry for people to pick up their binoculars and go bird-spotting for the Big Farmland Bird Count (BFBC) which returns on Friday, February 8.
The passionate organiser of the count, organised by the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT), is urging farmers, land managers, gamekeepers and all wildlife enthusiasts to spend 30 minutes recording what species they see on their patch of land from February 8th to the 17th.
Your support will help identify the farmland birds that are flourishing due to good conservation methods and ones in need of most support.
“It would be fantastic to see even more farmers to take part in the count this year,” said Jim.
“Counting birds on farms is a great way to recognise what species are there as well as being an opportunity to take time out and see the benefits of work such as wild seed mix and supplementary feeding.
“Taking part and submitting results enables us at GWCT to shout about the important conservation work many farmers are doing.
“We want landowners to be proud of their efforts. We will make sure that the public and policymakers hear about what can be achieved on Britain’s farms. The BFBC is a very positive way to showcase what can be achieved.”
Backing this vital citizen-science project, running for the sixth successive year, is the NFU, which is this year’s sponsor.
President Minette Batters is vowing her support to the count by going bird-watching on her farm in Downton, Wiltshire.
She will be joined on day one with GWCT biodiversity advisor Pete Thompson, an advocate of the count, both of whom will be ready with their binoculars, notepads and sharpened pencils, recording what they see.
“I am delighted to be taking part in this year’s GWCT Big Farmland Bird Count which the NFU is pleased to be sponsoring for the very first time,” she said.
“It’s becoming an important national event where thousands of farmers and growers around the country are able to take stock of and importantly, take pride in what they find on their land.
“The NFU supports initiatives like the Big Farmland Bird Count as without sound management of the environment, enhancement of habitats, protection of wildlife and support for pollinators and soils, we do not have farming businesses.
“So, I would encourage all farmers to take part, and also remember to submit your records to the GWCT, so we can pull together a vital national snapshot of the state of the nation when it comes to farmland birds.”
A record-breaking 1,000 people took part in last year’s count, recording 121 species across 950,000 acres.
A total of 25 red-listed species were recorded, with five appearing in the 25 most commonly seen species list. These include fieldfares, starlings, house sparrows, song thrushes and yellowhammers. The most plentiful of these were fieldfares and starlings, which were seen on nearly 40% of the farms taking part.
At the end of the count, the results will be analysed by the Trust. All participants will receive a report on the national results once they have been collated.
New Flock and Herd Health Officers
HYBU Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC) has appointed two new Flock and Herd Health Officers to its ambitious five-year Red Meat Development Programme, designed to equip Wales’s lamb and beef industry for a changing future.
The posts are key to delivering the programme’s commitment to helping farmers achieve on-farm efficiency and drive best practice in proactive animal health planning.
The programme is supported by the Welsh Government Rural Communities – Rural Development Programme 2014 – 2020, which is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the Welsh Government.
Lowri Reed hails from a farming background near Llanon in central Ceredigion, whereas Lowri Williams is from Llanfihangel y Creuddyn near Aberystwyth, and is a graduate in Animal Management and Welfare from Harper Adams University.
Dr Rebekah Stuart, the coordinator of the Flock and Herd Health Project at HCC, said: “We’re delighted to have recruited two officers with experience and knowledge of agriculture and flock management to this important strand of work.
“There are few things that can have as great an impact on the efficiency and bottom line of a livestock enterprise as a proactive and coordinated approach to animal health and eradicating disease.
“The project will help farmers to work with vets to put health plans in place and monitor their effectiveness. Since opening an initial expression of interest window late last year at the Winter Fair, we’re encouraged by how many farmers are keen to be involved. We look forward to working with them to put this exciting project into action.”
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