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Parasite control

Dave Barz, DVM

For now the drought is over. Many have received ten inches of rain in the last few days. The row crops will suffer but the pastures should do well. These wet conditions will benefit the parasite larva that over wintered in our pastures.

The first step of your parasite control program is to treat your pairs before turnout. Many of you deworm and pour your cows after the ground freezes in the late fall. This helps your cows maintain weight during calving and decreases your feed cost. This should also decrease shedding of parasites to the young calves. We routinely do fecal exams and egg counts on calves before turnout. Most calves have a population of internal parasites before branding and turnout.

By deworming your pairs at turnout you greatly decrease the number of eggs shed on your pasture. We use a lot of injectable dewormers in the spring because they are effective and most producers process their pairs through a chute or alley making injections possible. This is a good start, but once these animals are put to grass they are exposed to millions of worm larvae on the lush green grass they consume.

The second step to a successful program is to reworm the animals while on grass. About 90 percent of the worm population overwinters in the soil of the pasture and emerges to reinfect when the temperature increases. These worm larvae reinfect your cows and calves, but the pairs are not shedding any new eggs because of turnout worming. The new larvae develop in the host and begin to shed eggs in about a month. It is recommended that you reworm four to six weeks after turnout.

It is now possible to reworm without bringing the cattle into the corrals and chute. Oral products have been formulated into free choice minerals, protein blocks, cubes, and now a liquid feed that can be added to a lick tub. Deworming at this time again ends the egg shedding and removes the adults from the cows and calves. The less eggs shed during the grazing season, the fewer larvas will be carried over into the next grazing season. Good deworming programs decrease the pasture parasite contamination for future seasons.

The third step takes place in another four to six weeks. It is time to precondition your calves before weaning. When we roundup the calves it is important to deworm them again. Parasite free animals are less stressed because the internal infestation of worms suppresses appetite and the immune systems while reducing the ability of the gut to absorb nutrients. Your calves will be healthier, heavier and have better immune response to vaccines when you wean.

Strategically deworming your cow-calf pairs increases your pregnancy rate while adding forty pounds to your calves weaning weights. Consult with your veterinarian or nutritionalist and develop a program which works for your herd and your conditions. Fecal egg counts will allow you to monitor the success of your program. Iowa State University estimates internal parasites cost the beef industry $190 per animal. A well planned and executed program can greatly reduce parasite larvae in your pasture while producing heavier, healthier calves guaranteeing an excellent return on your deworming investment.

For now the drought is over. Many have received ten inches of rain in the last few days. The row crops will suffer but the pastures should do well. These wet conditions will benefit the parasite larva that over wintered in our pastures.

The first step of your parasite control program is to treat your pairs before turnout. Many of you deworm and pour your cows after the ground freezes in the late fall. This helps your cows maintain weight during calving and decreases your feed cost. This should also decrease shedding of parasites to the young calves. We routinely do fecal exams and egg counts on calves before turnout. Most calves have a population of internal parasites before branding and turnout.

By deworming your pairs at turnout you greatly decrease the number of eggs shed on your pasture. We use a lot of injectable dewormers in the spring because they are effective and most producers process their pairs through a chute or alley making injections possible. This is a good start, but once these animals are put to grass they are exposed to millions of worm larvae on the lush green grass they consume.

The second step to a successful program is to reworm the animals while on grass. About 90 percent of the worm population overwinters in the soil of the pasture and emerges to reinfect when the temperature increases. These worm larvae reinfect your cows and calves, but the pairs are not shedding any new eggs because of turnout worming. The new larvae develop in the host and begin to shed eggs in about a month. It is recommended that you reworm four to six weeks after turnout.

It is now possible to reworm without bringing the cattle into the corrals and chute. Oral products have been formulated into free choice minerals, protein blocks, cubes, and now a liquid feed that can be added to a lick tub. Deworming at this time again ends the egg shedding and removes the adults from the cows and calves. The less eggs shed during the grazing season, the fewer larvas will be carried over into the next grazing season. Good deworming programs decrease the pasture parasite contamination for future seasons.

The third step takes place in another four to six weeks. It is time to precondition your calves before weaning. When we roundup the calves it is important to deworm them again. Parasite free animals are less stressed because the internal infestation of worms suppresses appetite and the immune systems while reducing the ability of the gut to absorb nutrients. Your calves will be healthier, heavier and have better immune response to vaccines when you wean.

Strategically deworming your cow-calf pairs increases your pregnancy rate while adding forty pounds to your calves weaning weights. Consult with your veterinarian or nutritionalist and develop a program which works for your herd and your conditions. Fecal egg counts will allow you to monitor the success of your program. Iowa State University estimates internal parasites cost the beef industry $190 per animal. A well planned and executed program can greatly reduce parasite larvae in your pasture while producing heavier, healthier calves guaranteeing an excellent return on your deworming investment.


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