This year's wet weather has been ideal for the transmission of liver fluke, a parasite that damages the livers of cattle and sheep.

There have been outbreaks in previously fluke-free areas and there are also tales circulating of significant losses of lambs, as well as adult sheep.

Many producers now have their flocks on a three-week dosing cycle to control the disease.

Loading article content

Dr Philip Skuce of the Moredun Research Institute on the outskirts of Edinburgh now reports the emergence of another fluke parasite – rumen fluke – which has a similar life-cycle to liver fluke, and may utilise the same species of intermediate host snail.

Adult rumen fluke appear to be well-tolerated in the stomachs of grazing livestock, but heavy infestations of immature rumen fluke have recently been associated with clinical disease and deaths in both sheep and cattle.

Both fluke species are traditionally diagnosed by detection of eggs in faecal samples, but their eggs look very similar and could be confused. Differential diagnosis is important because most flukicides do not kill rumen fluke.

As all the currently available diagnostic tests for fluke have their limitations, Moredun is now evaluating alternative approaches using DNA-based methods for fluke detection.

Market round-up

Lawrie and Symington Ltd sold 17 prime heifers in Lanark on Monday to a top of 230p per kg and an average of 207.6p (-10.6p on the week), while 13 prime, beef-bred bullocks also peaked at 230p and levelled at 214.2p (+1.5p). Twenty-three prime, B&W bullocks averaged 169.7p.

In the rough ring 44 beef cows averaged 118p, while 43 dairy cows levelled at 102p. Thirteen OTM cattle averaged 113p and 5 bulls levelled at 132p.

There were also 1850 prime lambs that sold to £94 per head and 208.9p per kg to average 148.9p (-1.1p).

The 626 cast sheep forward saw ewes sell to £129.50 for Texels and £54.50 for Blackfaces with the overall average levelling at £55.54 (+£8.70).

The firm also sold nine diary cattle at its fortnightly sale to a top of £2000 for a Holstein heifer and an average of £1646 (-£55 on the previous sale).

The Cumberland and Dumfriesshire Farmers Mart had 3115 store lambs and feeding ewes forward in Longtown yesterday. Top prices and averages for store lambs: Texels to £57 and averaged £45.36; Suffolks £62 and £44.98; Greyfaces £54.50 and £44.47; Hill Cheviots £50 and £40.20; Blackfaces £53.50 and £1.65; Swaledales £37 and £16.04.

Messrs Craig Wilson Ltd sold 25 prime heifers at Ayr yesterday to a top of 241p and an average of 217.5p, while six prime bullocks peaked at 230p and levelled at 203.5p. Five young bulls averaged 172.7p.

In the rough ring, 85 beef cows averaged 128.6p and 119 dairy cows levelled at 105.6p. Six bulls averaged 139.6p. A larger show of 18 dairy cattle was topped by a Holstein heifer at £2180 and averaged £1808.