Livestock News

Zoetis busts five internal parasite myths


Did you know? Poor internal parasite control causes the cattle industry to lose about $3 billion each year in lost weight gains, poor feed conversion, and increased disease. With the financial impact and animal welfare concerns on cattle operations, it is important for producers to understand parasite control, as well as the misconceptions about parasite control.

Zoetis shares five internal parasite control myths that might be putting a producer’s management program at risk.

Myth No. 1: All active ingredients in parasite control products have the same efficacy.

There are different active ingredients and different classes of dewormers, which should be used strategically on an operation for effective parasite control, advises Mark Alley, DVM, managing veterinarian with Zoetis.

Myth No. 2: My animals look fine, so I don’t have a parasite resistance problem.

“Parasitologists agree that no dewormer provides 100 percent effectiveness against parasites,” Alley said in a recent release. “We make the assumption that all parasite control products are 100 percent effective, but even with 50 percent kill of parasites, producers will see a clinical improvement in the animals.”

Alley says producers can’t tell visually if there is a resistant parasite problem in the herd. They need to work closely with their veterinarian to diagnose resistant parasites and establish a strategic deworming program.

Myth No. 3: Parasites cannot withstand winter’s cold temperatures.

“It is a mistake to think it gets cold enough to kill parasites over the winter,”Alley said.

Parasites can simply overwinter in cattle or pastures. While winter may take its toll on many things, studies demonstrate that infective larvae were able to survive on pastures during winter months.

Myth No. 4: Antiparasitics can be administered to work at a producer’s convenience.

Timing is critical for administering antiparasitic products. Often, producers deworm when it’s most convenient for them, rather than when it’s most effective to control parasites. Alley recommends year-round parasite control, both in the fall and again in the spring before summer pasture turnout.

Myth No. 5: Dosing to the average weight of the group is adequate.

It’s important for producers to not only match the dewormer to the type of parasite challenge but also to administer each dose per the animal’s calculated weight. Incorrect dosing has been identified as a major contributor to the development of resistant parasites. A common practice is to dose products to the average weight of the herd, rather than to the individual weight of the animal. In this case, half the herd could be underdosed.


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