Although the rumen fluke, Calicophoron daubneyi is now very common and widespread throughout Western Europe, reports of clinical cases are still rare. This study explores the epidemiological background to a severe rumen fluke outbreak in 6-month-old heifers on a dairy farm in Ireland. Sequence analysis of the cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (Cox1) gene of the rumen fluke metacercariae on pasture failed to identify predominant, possibly pathogenic subtypes. However, estimates of metacercarial load indicated that the animals were exposed to a daily dose of about 5334 C. daubneyi metacercariae for a period of 3 weeks resulting in the build-up of very large numbers of immature worms in the small intestine. It is hypothesized that specific environmental conditions may favour this parasite over its competitor, the liver fluke, Fasciola hepatica, possibly by allowing it to emerge earlier. The possibility that C. daubneyi may be better adapted to the Irish climate than F. hepatica together with the fact that selective treatment against F. hepatica effectively frees the niche for C. daubneyi, may result in the gradual replacement of F. hepatica by C. daubneyi.