COWS Launches Lungworm Survey: Understanding and Managing Lungworm Infections in UK Livestock

The Control of Worms Sustainably (COWS) group has taken a proactive step towards understanding and managing lungworm infections in UK livestock by launching a comprehensive survey targeted at veterinarians. The aim of this survey is to gather vital information about lungworm outbreaks, treatment protocols, and efficacy across the country. Through this initiative, COWS hopes to track lungworm cases throughout the 2024 grazing season, shedding light on crucial aspects such as when outbreaks occur, which class of stock is most affected, and how well they respond to treatment.

According to Helen Carty, Veterinary Centre Manager for the SRUC, there has been growing concern about the efficacy of wormers in treating lungworm infections in cattle. The survey seeks to address whether this is due to resistance of lungworms to the wormers or if it is attributed to factors like poor administration practices. Farmers often face challenges in determining the effectiveness of treatments, especially when clinical signs persist or reappear after initial administration.

To standardize the assessment of wormer efficacy, COWS has developed a pro-forma on Survey Monkey for vets to report cases of lungworm they encounter. The collated, anonymized data from this survey will serve as a valuable resource for future discussions and initiatives regarding lungworm management.

Ms. Carty emphasizes the importance of timely reporting from vets regarding lungworm outbreaks, along with details of any testing conducted and the response to treatment. The priority currently lies in vaccinating young cattle before turnout on high-risk farms.

In addition to the survey, COWS provides comprehensive guidance on protecting both beef and dairy herds from lungworm infections:

For beef herds:

- Consider vaccinating youngstock before turnout based on farm history and risk assessment.

- Monitor and treat liver and rumen fluke infections as necessary, especially in second-season calves.

- Practice selective treatment based on faecal egg counts for gut and lung worms.

For dairy herds:

- Vaccinate youngstock before turnout in high-risk situations.

- Monitor and treat liver and rumen fluke infections before turnout.

- Employ selective treatment based on faecal egg counts for gut and lung worms.

The survey results, anticipated to be released in 2025, will provide valuable insights into lungworm management practices and help inform future strategies.

For more information and to access the survey, visit COWS Lungworm Survey or check the COWS website's News section.


COWS' proactive approach towards understanding and managing lungworm infections underscores the importance of collaborative efforts in safeguarding the health and welfare of UK livestock. By participating in the survey and implementing recommended practices, veterinarians and livestock farmers can contribute to more effective lungworm management strategies, ultimately benefiting the entire agricultural community.

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