With the cold and wet weather still upon us, it may seem a little early to be planning for turn out, but it is the perfect time to look back at last year and reflect on what parasite challenges you may have faced last season and start preparing for turn out this season.

A parasite control plan can enable the use of minimal drugs for maximum benefit by targeting the right animals with the right product at the right time, which can help avoid losses. Please give the practice a call to discuss implementing a parasite control plan on farm, but in the meantime here are a few key factors to look at this month:


Cattle – Mites and lice can be found in small numbers year-round on cattle, but housing can cause a population explosion. If you see itchy animals then getting a diagnosis is key as treatments differ and can become costly if a product doesn’t work the first time. Please speak with your vet so that you can use the right product first time on the right animals.

Sheep – Scab and lice are common in winter and symptoms are similar, including severe itching, wool loss, biting and scratching affected areas. As with cattle diagnosis is key as, other than plunge dipping, there are no products that will treat both diseases; please consult with your vet.

Parasitic gastroenteritis (PGE)

Cattle – Ostertagia are a type of gut worm that can encyst (hibernate) within the stomach wall over winter, which can emerge in the late winter months to cause disease, known as Type 2 Ostertagia. Signs are profuse diarrhoea that is unresponsive to treatment. This disease will normally affect cattle housed after their first season grazing and can be prevented by worming at housing with a group 3-ML wormer.

Sheep – Routine worming of ewes at lambing time has shown to be ineffective at preventing worm burdens in lambs and can also increase the risk of resistance. There can be a benefit to worming young or poorer ewes at this time; Claire discusses this more in her article!

Liver fluke

Adult fluke (chronic fluke infection) is the main risk at this time of year and treatment with triclabendazole is not recommended. Animals that have not been treated or have been grazing wet/boggy pastures after treatment may be at risk. Clinical signs are not always obvious, but may include poor body condition, reduced weight gain and bottle jaw. Testing can be done on individuals or using a pooled faecal sample from 10 animals per group. Abattoir reports are also useful for current infection status as well as antibodies in bulk milk tests. Animals do not gain immunity over time, and as such all animals in an affected group should be treated.

Dairy – Limited products are licensed in dairy cattle, consult with your vet or SQP for advice on effective treatment plans.

Beef/Sheep – Be aware of withdrawal periods and use a product suitable for adult fluke.

*Reminder – Pasture risk*

Grazing management can help reduce the reliance on anthelmintics, always try to use low risk pasture for turnout of any youngstock:


Now is the time to tackle Lungworm. As mentioned in our Dairy Talk article, please speak to us as soon as possible about lungworm vaccination and parasite control for the season ahead!