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Home Liver Fluke Control

Liver Fluke Control

Liver fluke (Fasciola hepatica) only occurs where the intermediate host – freshwater snails – are present:  

  • Austropeplea (Lymnaeatomentosa 
  • and in warmer areas, Pseudosuccinia (Lymnaeacolumella 

These snails are found where there are slow-moving creeks, swamps, springs or shallow irrigation channels and they can survive in mud when water flow temporarily stops. However, the snail is not necessarily present in all such areas.

Liver fluke may not be present on all paddocks or properties in a ‘flukey’ locality.

Roundworms are often specific to one type of animal, but liver fluke can infect many species including cattle, sheep, goats, alpacas and horses, as well as humans and wild animals.


Grazing management can help prevent liver fluke infection. Unfortunately, there is currently no effective method to breed for host resistance to liver fluke.

If liver fluke is present on a property, infection can be prevented or minimised by:

  • fencing the areas that harbour the snail, to keep stock out
  • conducting earthworks to deepen shallow water, or to improve drainage
  • repairing broken pipes and troughs that have resulted in permanent wet areas
  • avoiding grazing of snail-infested areas by the most susceptible animals (sheep, goats, alpacas and young cattle)


Testing for liver fluke can be done using the dung samples sent for a WormTest. A fluke test, which uses a different method to that used for roundworms, must be specifically requested.

If you don’t know whether your stock are infected with liver fluke, test three times a year (autumn, winter and summer) for at least two years (i.e. 6 tests).

Testing will show whether liver fluke is present and to what extent.

You can also determine which paddocks are affected by testing mobs that have only been run in a particular paddock since the last fluke-treatment.

If fluke egg counts for a particular paddock are frequently high (greater than 25–50 eggs per gram), there may be significant production losses. Reconsider your grazing strategies for the affected paddocks and see if fluke-affected areas can be fenced off.

If results at the three testing times are not always positive, then continue testing at the specified times to decide whether to drench.

If all six tests have been negative and the livers of dead or slaughter animals have not shown any signs of liver fluke, it is likely that the lymnaeid snails are not present on your property to act as a host for liver fluke. In this case, drenching for fluke will not be required (except to remove fluke from animals brought onto the property).

A blood test (antibody [ELISA] test) is also available from various laboratories, for example, the NSW Department of Primary Industries State Veterinary Laboratory at Menangle. Also, a faecal antigen test for fluke is available through Charles Sturt University’s Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory


Any positive fluke egg count is significant and indicates treatment is needed.

If testing for two years confirms that stock are infected at all test times, then ongoing testing can be stopped. In this case, three routine treatments for liver fluke should be given to stock that have been grazing the affected paddocks in:

  • April–May
  • August–September
  • February

Some treatments for roundworms (scour worms and barber’s pole worms) will control various stages of liver fluke. Check the label as some are only effective against mature fluke (see Table 1.).

The most important treatment is carried out in April–May and should be based on the flukicide, triclabendazole, which is effective against all stages of the fluke found in the stock. If treatments are also required in August–September and/or February, one or both of these treatments should be a flukicide other than triclabendazole (if this was used in April). This treatment rotation will reduce the rate of development of fluke resistant to triclabendazole.

When bringing in stock from another property, consider including a fluke treatment in the quarantine drench if their fluke status is unknown. Bear in mind that adult liver fluke can live for several years inside host animals (see Table 1).

Table 1. Fluke treatments and the age of fluke from which they are effective

ActiveAge of fluke killed
TriclabendazoleAll stages
AlbendazoleFrom 12 weeks
ClosantelFrom 8 weeks
Closantel plus oxfendazole*From 6 weeks
Closantel plus albendazole*From 8 weeks
Oxyclozanide plus levamisoleFrom 12 weeks

Source: from Liver fluke disease in sheep and cattle, by J Boray (March 2007) NSW DPI Primefact 446
*No commercial products with this combination are currently available. 
Note: only triclabendazole and albendazole are registered for use in goats.

When using anthelmintic products in goats, a veterinary prescription is often required because: 
Goats require a different dose rate and withholding period than specified on most products, even for many registered goat drenches.
Most sheep drenches are not registered for use in goats.
While cattle drenches can be used at the label rates on goats in South Australia and sheep drenches on goats in Victoria, a veterinary prescription is still required for dose rates recommended for goats.

Table 2. Anthelmintics registered and commercially available for liver fluke control in goats.

Brand nameActiveCompanyWHP
BZ*AlbenAlbendazole (19 g/l)Virbac1010
BZ*WSD AlbendazoleAlbendazole (19 g/l)WSD1010
BZ*BeezedAlbendazole (19 g/l)Landmark1010
BZ*ValbazenAlbendazole (19 g/l)Coopers1010
BZ*†Flukare CTriclabendazole (120 g/l)Virbac21not set

*MILK: DO NOT USE in lactating animals where milk or milk products may be used for human consumption.

DO NOT USE less than 21 days before calving, lambing or kidding in cows, ewes or does where milk or milk products from treated animals may be used for human consumption.

Where TRICLABENDAZOLE is accidently given within this period or cows, ewes or does calve, lamb or kid earlier than 21 days after treatment, milk will contain residues. This milk must not be used for human consumption, or supplied for processing for at least 21 days following treatment. Calves fed this milk should not be slaughtered for human consumption within10 days. Lambs or kids fed this milk should not be slaughtered for human consumption within 7 days. 

Some BZ drenches containing albendazole are used at slightly increased dose rates to control liver fluke. Dose rates are displayed clearly on the product label.

The following drench actives do not control liver fluke:

  • moxidectin, abamectin or ivermectin
  • oxfendazole and fenbendazole
  • levamisole
  • naphthalophos and pyraclofos
  • monepantel
  • derquantel
  • praziquantel

Resistance to flukicides

Resistance has developed to various flukicides. Rotate between flukicides from different chemical groups, beginning with triclabendazole for the April–May treatment.

More detailed information on liver fluke can be found at the NSW DPI web site:

Liver fluke in sheep and cattle (NSW Primefact)

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