Since parasites are found in almost all forage situations, your cattle are ingesting parasites if they are grazing pastures, according to Gary Sides, Sterling, Colo., Cattle Nutritionist for Pfizer Animal Health. Parasites cause numerous problems, including depressed immune systems in cattle, making cattle more susceptible to diseases challenges.
“Internal parasites also suppress appetites, which limits nutrient intake and absorption,” Sides says. “Reduced nutrition impacts animal performance including gain, feed efficiency, immune response, and reproduction.” In fact, Sides says that producers can lose up to $200 per cow/calf pair through production and reproductive losses due to parasite infection.
According to Sides, parasites require cattle to complete their lifecycle. “The purpose of strategic deworming is to treat cattle in a timely manner to reduce the total parasite load on pasture,” he says. “This reduces total exposure of parasites to all cattle on that pasture.”
Sides recommends deworming twice per year with a reputable dewormer, like DECTOMAX®, in the spring, before grass turnout and in the fall before winter. “In a spring-calving herd, the cow and calf should both be dewormed. The stress on a calf’s growth rate and immune system is much higher than that of its dam because it’s not as well developed and has not built up any resistance to parasites,” he adds.
There are three basic choices for deworming cattle:
Avermectin Pour-On – not only eliminates worm infections but is also effective against a wide range of common external parasites
Injectable Avermectin –best used for internal parasite control, but also has coverage against external parasites
Oral Suspensions – effective only against internal parasites, including protection against worms and flukes
Effective parasite control often starts with comprehensive control and treatment offered by products, like DECTOMAX, followed-up with oral suspension products, like VALBAZEN®, or insecticide pour-on or tags.
“I like using injectable dewormers in the spring because that’s when you find the highest internal parasite load on pastures,” Sides says. “If you live in an area where biting lice are a problem in the winter, one option is to use a pour-on dewormer in late fall to get an extra boost in lice control.”
Sides recommends working with your local veterinarian to design a deworming program that fits your operation.