Roundworms, liver fluke and lungworm are costing UK livestock producers £270 million in lost production and treatment expenditure every year, according to a study published in the Preventive Veterinary Medicine journal. The study examined the economic burden of major parasitic worm infections on livestock across 18 European countries.
Dairy cattle accounted for 55% of the UK total, beef cattle 29% and sheep 16%.
The UK was second to France, at £418m in the EU league table, with Ireland third at £214m. All three have large national cattle herds with predominantly grazing systems. However, the study authors estimate the UK’s annual public funding for research on the control of worm infections at just 0.18% of annual disease costs.
Resistance to anthelmintic products continues to grow – the study estimates annual losses attributed to wormer resistance to the cattle industry as a whole at some £3.5m.
“Farmers, working with vets and RAMAs/SQPS must draw up a plan for identifying the risks and how to protect their cattle from worm infections, in the most responsible way,” advises Dr Hannah Rose Vineer of the University of Liverpool, a UK-based co-author of the study.