Livestock SmartNews

Spring deworming: Maximize your investment this year

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The benefits of deworming cattle are well known: increased weight gains and breeding efficiency, reduced pasture contamination, improved immune status and more. Using an extended-release dewormer, however, can be the game changer needed to realize the greatest return on investment, according to Boehringer Ingelheim.

An extended-release dewormer boasts the unique ability to control parasites on both a short- and long-term basis. “Injectable extended-release dewormers are essentially two doses in one,” explained Joe Gillespie, DVM, Boehringer Ingelheim. “The first dose is much like a conventional dewormer in that it works on parasites immediately. Then, the second dose, which is protected in a polymer, is released in the 70- to 100-day range.” After 150 days, the drug is eliminated from the body.

“If your cattle are on grass for longer than two months, it’s definitely an option worth considering,” Dr. Gillespie continued. “Over the course of a grazing season, cattle will better utilize forage and other resources — and ultimately, gain more weight.3,4 It’s also a great way to save on labor costs since producers won’t need to bring animals back from pasture for reapplication.”

Debunking resistance fears

There have been concerns that an extended release dewormer could create parasite resistance more rapidly than a standard dewormer. However, the extended release holds the second dose and releases it the same as if an animal were given another application. “The active ingredient is removed from the body in much the same way as current endectocide dewormers on the market,” noted Dr. Gillespie.

To help manage the development of resistance, Dr. Gillespie recommends talking to your veterinarian about refugia. Refugia (in which a percentage of the herd is selectively not dewormed) is recognized as a key factor in delaying the onset of parasite resistance. Leaving a portion of the parasite population in “refuge” from dewormers reduces the drug-resistance selection pressure caused by a single dewormer.

Putting extended-release deworming to the test

Rob Gill, manager of eight cow-calf operations and an 11,000-head feedlot located throughout Wyoming and surrounding states, decided to put an extended-duration dewormer to the test. “We treated one group of heifers with just a drench and pour-on, and the other group received an extended-duration dewormer. Heifers that received the longer-acting dewormer were about 32 pounds heavier coming off grass in the fall.”

Gill says that while producers may frown upon the initial cost of a longer-acting dewormer, there’s a significant payoff between the lower stress levels and added weight gain. “We treat cattle before they go out to pasture, and we don’t have to touch them again until they’re in the feedlot,” he added. “The dewormer is worth our investment because it keeps parasites out of pastures, resulting in better weight gain that carries through to feedlot performance.”

Three tips for any deworming product and program

No matter the type of product you choose, Dr. Gillespie recommends adhering to the following practices to get the most out of your dewormers:

  1. Use diagnostics to evaluate parasite populations and product efficacy. A fecal egg count reduction test, or FECRT, is a standardized diagnostic tool that can evaluate the efficacy of your deworming products. Typically, a 90% or greater reduction in the fecal egg count indicates that your dewormer is performing the way it’s supposed to. A coproculture can help find the species of parasites most prevalent within the herd, so you can implement a targeted approach to parasite control.
  2. Read the product label closely to be sure it offers the protection your herd needs. Each class of dewormers has its own strengths and weaknesses, and certain classes are more effective against specific parasites. By performing regular diagnostic testing and paying close attention to product labels, you can determine how effective each dewormer will be at controlling the key parasites in your herd. It’s also difficult for the dewormer to do its job if not administered correctly. Read the label to be certain the product is stored correctly, the dose you’re administering is accurate for the weight of animal you’re treating, and your equipment is properly functioning prior to treating the animals.
  3. Work with your herd veterinarian. Every producer’s situation is unique; no two herds are the same, and neither are their parasite burdens. That’s why consulting your veterinarian is so important. He or she can help evaluate your operation’s needs and recommend a deworming protocol and product(s) based on the findings. Your grazing season period, the age and class of your animals, your operation type and the grazing history of the pasture are all considerations to discuss.
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