Protect Your Pastures with Spring Deworming

Using the wrong dewormer at the wrong time could cost you money through production and reproductive losses.

NEW YORK (March 5, 2009) – Rough hair coats and reduced weaning weights are clinical signs of underperforming calves caused by a parasite problem. When current deworming strategies fail, producers should reevaluate their deworming strategies and products to maximize effectiveness and cattle performance. Spring deworming, using the right product, is an essential step producers can take in protecting their investment.

Importance of deworming

Parasites are found in almost all forage situations. Your cattle will be ingesting parasites if they are grazing pastures. Parasites cause numerous problems, including depressed immune systems and a reduction in total feed intake, making cattle more susceptible to disease challenges.

According to Gary Sides, PhD, cattle nutritionist for Pfizer Animal Health, parasites require access to 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 said. “This reduces total exposure of parasites to all cattle on that pasture.

“Internal parasites also suppress appetite, which limits nutrient intake and absorption,” Sides added. “Reduced nutrition impacts animal performance including gain, feed efficiency, immune response and reproduction.”

These losses can be minimized by using a dewormer before pasture turnout in the spring. In 2007, when the Connell Ranch in Whitman, Neb., was experiencing below normal weight in their calves, they began to reevaluate their strategies for deworming.

"We had kept back the smaller calves and were worried about them not doing as well. Many of them were probably 50 pounds under the normal weight we like to see for calves going onto pasture," explained Zane Connell.

Dectomax® was administered to more than 200 head of steer and heifer calves. By fall, the operation found the treated calves had put on more weight and become some of the heaviest they have ever had.

"Using Dectomax was the only change we made, and we were really impressed with the added weight gain we saw in those calves,” said Connell. “We had to figure that most of that improvement was due to using Dectomax."

“Dectomax may be more expensive than other dewormers. But, at the end of the day if other products don’t perform, you could be losing $20 per head at the feedyard level,” Sides stressed. “In this instance, price shouldn’t be the deciding factor. It is the performance that matters.”

And if parasites are not controlled on pasture cattle in the spring, losses from performance, reproductive and weaning weight may be even greater.

"After last year's results, we used Dectomax again this year on our calves. We're anxious to see the same type of results again," Connell said.

Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE), the world’s largest research-based pharmaceutical company, is a world leader in discovering and developing innovative animal vaccines and prescription medicines. Pfizer Animal Health is dedicated to improving the safety, quality and productivity of the world’s food supply by enhancing the health of livestock and poultry; and in helping companion animals live longer and healthier lives. For additional information on Pfizer’s portfolio of animal products, visit

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