Cattle and sheep producers are facing a dramatic increase in the incidence of liver fluke, following one of the wettest summers on record.
Vets have reported an ominous rise in the number of clinical liver fluke cases in cattle in the past fortnight.
"Last week, I saw six young bullocks with acute liver fluke," said Donal Lynch of Veterinary Ireland.
"That is almost unheard of because most acute fluke problems are found in old cows that have never been treated for them.
"We have seen cows with scour due to fluke and cases of 'bottlejaw' or oedema under the jaw of cattle.
"These are characteristics of animals suffering from liver problems caused by fluke," added Mr Lynch.
Mr Lynch said he expected chronic fluke to be a massive problem for farmers in the coming months.
"Fluke infestation, combined with scarce and low quality fodder, could mean lots of problems for farmers next spring," he said.
Depending on the degree of infection, liver fluke can cause a 20pc drop in meat production in cattle and up to 30pc in sheep, and reduce milk production by 8pc in cows, according to Animal Health Ireland.
Fertility suffers and losses also occur due to the number of livers condemned in meat plants.
- Caitriona Murphy
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