The dry summer followed by significant rain in October and November has led to a large late gutworm challenge this winter, according to the latest parasite forecast from the National Animal Disease Information Service (NADIS).

According to the forecast, large numbers of inhibited larvae may lead to an increased risk of scour in cattle this winter, particularly among young stock, which do not receive a worming dose at housing.

However, on the bright side, lungworm disease levels are expected to fall to low levels in December, with a worming dose at housing clearing any infection. Any out-wintered stock, however, are still at risk of disease if stormy December weather releases more larvae on to the pasture from dung pats.

Fiona MacGillivray, veterinary advisor for Merial Animal Health, which sponsors the forecast, said the company advises moving out-wintered stock off contaminated grazing to prevent further gutworm and lungworm infection this winter.

She said: “Dairy farmers should consider taking a MOO test [a test that measures the levels of gutworm antibodies in the milk] to check for levels of gutworm challenge in their herd and treat accordingly.”

The December forecast also highlights that pastures remain infective enough to cause disease and poor growth in sheep this winter. Monitoring disease levels via faecal egg counts from batches of animals should enable farmers to keep on top of worm control, it said.

Liver fluke disease, meanwhile, is expected to reach relatively high levels by December. Northern and western Scotland and Northern Ireland continue to be at high risk for disease, with occasional losses expected across northern areas of England and North Wales. Lower levels of disease are forecast across the remainder of the UK.

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