Acute fasciolosis

Acute fasciolosis, is it cost effective to house lambs for finishing?

One option to reduce risk of acute fasciolosis is to finish lambs indoors and one of the perceived barriers to this may be cost.  A recent article in SAC Consulting’s Sheep and Beef News looked at the costs of finishing a 30kg store lamb in different systems and is summarised below:

The calculations were based on the lamb gaining 12kg before finishing and eating 1.2kg Dry Matter / day. 

Feed / bedding costs used in this calculation were silage@ £30 / tonne, concentrates @ £220 / tonne, grass @ £10 / tonne and straw @ £150 / tonne.   


Indoor, 40 days to finish, gain 300g / day

Indoor, 50 days to finish, gain 250g / day

Outdoors, 80 days to finish, gain 150g / day. 


17p / day, £6.80 total

15p / day, £7.50 total

12p / day, £9.60 total


£4.80 total

£6 total






So some considerations are:

  • A quicker finish is more cost effective
  • These calculations assume healthy sheep and do not factor in the costs of reduced live weight gain and mortality due to liver fluke infection finishing lambs at grass.  Assessing this risk at an individual farm level is crucial
  • Neither do these calculations take into account the risk of reduced live weight gain and mortality in housed sheep due to for example respiratory disease, acidosis or lameness
  • If housing sheep one would need to be sure that any housing flukicide and anthelmintic treatments were effective so as to stop the effects of these diseases in housed sheep.  Consideration would also have to be given to withdrawal periods for these products
  • One would need to consider what preventative strategies were already in place to reduce the risk of respiratory disease and lameness in housed sheep
  • In the end many of these decisions may come down to what shed space and feed is available on farm.  Recommendations for lambs at 31-40kg would be 0.75 sq. m / lamb and 350mm trough space / lamb

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