Housing is the perfect time to get on top of parasites in cattle to maximise growth over the winter and keep stress to a minimum.

Any animal that has had a grazing season is at risk of carrying worms, particularly first-season grazing animals whose immunity hasn’t had time to build up.

The main parasite threats grazing cattle face include:

  • Gutworms, particularly Ostertagia
  • Lungworms
  • Fluke
  • Ectoparasites such as lice

Failure to eliminate the risks can lead to production losses, increased costs, and health and welfare implications. We’ve outlined five steps farmers can take to manage parasites this winter:

  1. Identify the parasite risk 

Taking an evidence-based approach using diagnostic tests at strategic times can help you assess the parasite risk, disease status and the need for any treatment.

Faecal egg count tests to detect worms and coproantigen tests for fluke should be used in combination with farm history, symptoms and post-mortem information to determine the issue and whether there is a worm burden, fluke burden, or both (mixed burden).

If you’ve been monitoring growth rates in your young stock, a dip in growth or failure to meet growth rate targets could also indicate a parasite challenge.

Cattle may also present symptoms such as scours in younger cattle due to worms, hair loss or scratching from ectoparasites or coughing from lungworm, for example.

Speak to one of our qualified animal health advisors (RAMAs) about any symptoms your stock encounter.

  1. Timing of treatment 

Housing is a stressful time due to the change in housing, diet and mixing of groups. By eliminating parasites at this time, you are reducing the burden on the animal and stress by only handling the cattle once. This also cuts labour costs and saves you time.

  1. Treatment choice

Treatment choice will also be influenced by the animal’s age and purpose, with meat and milk withdrawal times something that should be considered.

Protecting cattle at housing will help maximise growth during the initial housing period by removing the worm burden and will also reduce the fluke burden by removing the late immature and adult fluke. Animals can then be tested for fluke before turnout to confirm if further treatment with a fluke adulticide is needed to reduce fluke egg output at turnout.
It is vital to always work with one of our qualified animal health advisors (RAMAs) when drawing up a parasite control plan.

  1. Correct application

Administering the treatment correctly is essential for it to work properly and help delay the development of resistant worms. Ideally, all animals should be weighed and dosed according to their individual weight. Dosing equipment should also be calibrated and thoroughly cleaned between use.

  1. Monitoring stock during housing

It is vital to continually monitor stock throughout the housing period to ensure they are performing at their best and to nip any health issues in the bud.

In cases where cattle have not been treated at housing for parasites, diagnostic tests should be performed during housing to prevent stock from overwintering liver fluke and risking pasture contamination at turnout.

There are many products available to help with the control of parasites; When choosing products for your livestock farm’s needs it is important to make an informed choice. To discuss parasite control at housing for your herd speak to one of our qualified animal health advisors (RAMAs).

This content is provided by Downland, retailers of Zermex® 0.5% w/v Pour-On for Cattle.

Zermex® 0.5% w/v Pour-On for Cattle contains moxidectin, POM-VPS. May be prescribed by any Registered Qualified Person (RQP – a veterinarian, a pharmacist or an appropriately qualified RAMA). For further information see the SPC, for advice farmers should contact their animal medicines supplier RAMA, veterinary surgeon or Downland Marketing Ltd, Warwick Mill, Warwick Bridge, Carlisle CA4 8RR. Use medicines responsibly: www.noah.co.uk/responsible.