Controlling and treating roundworms plays an important role in reducing the internal parasite burden, reducing production losses and improving profitability for cattle farmers, explains Sioned Timothy, ruminant technical manager at Boehringer Ingelheim.
Research carried out in the US has revealed major improvements to animal health and welfare as well as enhanced performance and productivity through the use of parasite control treatments.
Individual trials with beef cattle show the effect of anthelmintics on pregnancy rate range from an increase of 2.4 per cent to an increase of 120 per cent, the difference likely reflecting the specific nutritional, environmental and genetic conditions of the animals in the study.
The de-wormer’s effect on the weaning weight ranged from an increase of nearly 0.3% to more than 13%. Prevention of parasites can therefore have a major impact on the productivity of beef cattle.
Worms may impact significantly on performance without producing signs of clinical disease. Even sub-clinical parasitism, where only a few roundworms are present, can impact on productivity.
Reductions in feed intake associated with parasitism can vary considerably over a range of -4% to -77%.
Cattle may not only eat less but their feed efficiency can also be negatively impacted due to disruption of the digestive process. Nutritional resource gets allocated towards staging an immune response against the parasite challenge instead of growth and weight gain.
Grazing management practices will heavily influence exposure to roundworm larvae, while on-going preventative practices will minimise losses caused by clinical and sub-clinical parasite infections.
During the grazing season parasite control programmes should take into consideration the farm type, topography and facilities, so the approach can be matched to the farm’s objectives and attitudes.
Seasonality will inevitably impact on climate, plant growth, parasite epidemiology, cattle husbandry, farm management and housing, and thus parasite control. Parasite populations typically increase from mid-July onwards for parasitic gastroenteritis, and lungworm infections are more common from July onwards.
Map the farm at the start of the grazing season to determine the use of pastures, particularly in terms of parasite risk, when hay and silage aftermaths will become available, and which classes of stock will graze each pasture.
Each spring decide whether the parasite control plan will be strategic; adopting a planned approach to anthelmintic use, with whole-group treatments administered at specific risk periods, or whether a targeted approach to treatment, utilising a regular assessment of parasite risk to determine whether treatments are required is more appropriate.
For control of roundworm challenge in groups of youngstock to be effective, strategic anthelmintic treatments need to begin early in the grazing season. Thereafter, aim to minimise pasture contamination up to mid-July, by which time the over-wintered population should have declined to insignificant levels.
If the approach is targeted, ensure that effective, regular monitoring – such as weighing of cattle to assess growth performance – is in place, to allow poorer performing individuals not meeting growth targets to be treated.
Close monitoring of pasture quality throughout the grass-growing season will allow farmers to cope with the unpredictability associated with grazing.
GROWING CATTLE SHOULD BE WEIGHED REGULARLY, AS IT IS THE ONLY WAY TO ACCURATELY MONITOR PERFORMANCE.
Set growth targets for youngstock at grass, manage and feed accordingly and use anthelmintics alongside grazing management to ensure parasite challenge does not prevent targets from being met. Growing cattle should be weighed regularly, as it is the only way to accurately monitor performance.
An effective, planned parasite control strategy can overcome the threat posed by all the major parasites of cattle. The appropriate use of anthelmintics can alleviate the effects of existing burdens and reduce the risk of subsequent disease.
To ensure any anthelmintic products you use to treat cattle are as effective as possible, you should:
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