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 need for 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 – a mixed burden.
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 your vet about the most appropriate diagnostic test and any symptoms your stock encounters.
2. Treatment timing
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.
3. Treatment choice
Treatment will depend on the parasites present. For a mixed parasite burden, a combination product such as Cydectin TriclaMox Cattle Pour-On will treat gutworms, lungworm, lice, as well as late immature and adult fluke.
Treatment choice will also be influenced by the animal’s age and purpose, with meat and milk withdrawal times something that should be considered. It is vital to always work with your animal health care provider when drawing up a parasite control plan.
Protecting cattle will maximise growth during the initial housing period by removing the worm burden. It will also reduce the fluke burden. Animals can then be tested for fluke before turnout to confirm if further treatment is needed to reduce fluke egg output at turnout.
4. Correct application
Administering the treatment correctly is essential for it to work properly and delay the development of resistant worms. Ideally, all animals should be weighed and dosed according to their individual weight. Dosing equipment should be calibrated and thoroughly cleaned between use.
5. 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.