Click to contact us or call 02476 353537

Reducing the seasonal risk of liver fluke infection with Herdsure Cattle Health Improvement Service


Farmers should be aware that liver fluke infection will still be a risk to their cattle this autumn and winter. The liver fluke requires moderate to high rainfall in the spring and summer, to produce the infective stage of the life cycle on herbage in the autumn, for cattle to graze.


April was very dry, but summer rainfall will have compensated for this. High rainfall was experienced in July across the west and north, including Scotland, when it was very dry in the south and east. This contrasted markedly with the weather in August, where the west and north were relatively drier, but above- average rainfall was experienced in the Midlands and East Anglia.

Roger Daniel, liver fluke specialist at VLA, comments: This summers rainfall, coupled with the high incidence of fluke infection recorded by the Veterinary Laboratories Agency in the last three years, suggests a continued risk of infection this autumn and winter, particularly on farms where there has been no herd health plan to control the parasite. Infection can often go unnoticed in beef and dairy herds but there can be significant production loss with reduced milk yields, metabolic disease and poor weight gains in growing animals. Accurate diagnosis is therefore essential and farmers should consult their veterinary surgeons for the best means of diagnosis.

The testing window for liver fluke within the Herdsure Cattle Health Improvement Service runs from November to January. Herdsure offers sampling and testing to determine its status and, if necessary, advice on appropriate treatments and management measures to reduce the risk of liver fluke infection. Herdsure testing for liver fluke is extremely cost effective and ranges from 60-130/ year for a dairy herd and 120-250 for a beef herd depending on the testing regime used. Health status statements are issued on completion of each level of testing.

Liver fluke

Liver fluke is an internal parasite that infects the liver and causes disease (fasciolosis) in all grazing animals including cattle, sheep, goats, llamas and other exotic farm species. It has a life cycle that involves an intermediate snail host, which it also parasitizes. The clinical signs vary according to the species, and are caused by the feeding activities, and migration, of the parasite in the hosts liver. The signs include weight loss, diarrhoea, bottle jaw, recumbency, lethargy, anaemia and in the worst cases, death. Fasciolosis can cause sub-clinical infection resulting in production loss, such as lower milk yields in dairy cows, and lower growth rates in beef cattle. It also predisposes livestock to other diseases such as salmonellosis.


Herdsure is a national Cattle Health Improvement Service launched to address the issue of providing cattle herd health planning to multiple herds, offering multiple disease control over a long time period. The Herdsure Management System (HMS) is an IT system used to record animal test results and provide prompts when testing is due thus offering a service with minimal recording on the part of the farmer and vet. Herdsure currently offers the option to test for six diseases: BVD (bovine viral diarrhoea), Johnes, liver fluke, leptospirosis, neosporosis and IBR (infectious bovine rhinotracheitis). The programme is suitable for all herds including beef, dairy, commercial and pedigree. Herdsure is part of VLA Scientific.

For further information, see or contact Herdsure on 01789 750972.


VLA is an executive agency of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.  It is a UK network of veterinary laboratories and is internationally recognised as a centre of scientific excellence. It provides a wide range of applied research and consultancy on livestock diseases and surveillance of new and emerging diseases for the Government and animal health industry. Other services include animal health related research, specialised testing, epidemiology and risk assessment to support policy-making.  It also maintains an emergency response capability to ensure protection from disease outbreaks.  It is also a national and international reference laboratory for many farm animal diseases including avian influenza, bovine tuberculosis, classical swine fever and TSEs.

For further information, see 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked * great opportunity to promote your business to our dedicated readership of farmers, landowners, estate managers and associated agricultural professionals.
Contact us today on 02476 353537 and let's work together to drive your business forward.