We finally got a little sprinkle of rain, but it was not the inches we need to break this drought. Feed is short and of lower quality, but it is also expensive. As we try to save dollars in wintering our cows and calves we may decide to save a few dollars on internal parasite control. Just because the grass did not do well, does not mean the parasites were not there.
During a normal grazing year there is grass all over the pasture. This helps to dilute the parasite populations. Normally eggs are
shed in the manure and the larvae emerge and crawl up the grass. The cows then consume the larvae and they become egg laying adults. During periods of little rainfall, small areas of the pasture, near water or on low spots may have more grass than the hilltops. The cows spend more time there and shed more eggs. As the cows and calves re-graze these areas, they re-infest themselves.
We all understand the importance of deworming our calves. We sell pounds and anything we can do to increase total pounds is a benefit. This year the drought moved calf-working up three to four weeks. We used injectable wormers at vaccination to deworm. We believe injectable and drenchwormers do a better job than the pour-ons. Most of our producers were impressed the way the calves gained in the last month after worming. One or two extra pounds of gain will pay for the dewormer in the calf. This makes it a very good investment.
It is important this year not to overlook your cows. We don’t have as many corn stalks and bean stubbles to graze and harvested feed is very expensive. Anything we can do to decrease our cost of wintering a cow will greatly increase your profits. Many herds have been using pour-ons for the last ten years. The effectiveness against both internal and external parasites has decreased over the years. When we pregnancy check we will deworm either orally or injectablely while the cow is in the chute. If you don’t plan to catch individual animals, you can deworm with the feed or blocks. You won’t have to save much feed to pay for the deworming.
Strategic deworming requires two dewormings per year. You need to flush your cows about June first. This minimizes shed on the pastures and decreases the infection rate of your cows and calves. Then in the late summer or fall you deworm again lowering the parasite populations in your animals for winter. This helps save feed during the winter.
Maintaining a cow this winter will be very expensive. All management practices which minimize feed costs will help lower your cost of production. Visit with your nutritionalist, veterinarian or extension specialist and devise a program for your herd.