Worming suckler beef calves up to five-weeks before housing with
a long acting treatment can produce enough extra live-weight gain
off autumn grass to cover the costs of that treatment and two others
earlier in the year. It could also help reduce pneumonia especially
during the early housing period, according to SAC beef adviser
Dr Basil Lowman .
This strategy works because the active ingredient (A/I) doramectin,
available in Dectomax™, continues to prevent new infestations
for five weeks after treatment.
By getting cattle worm-free for
five pre-housing weeks, Dr Basil Lowman estimates that growth rates
could be boosted by up to 0.15kg per head per day. As a result
by the end of that period, cattle could have gained an additional
5.25kg in body weight (35 days x 0.15kg/day = 5.25kg).
this £5.25-worth of extra weight per animal
could be worth more than the combined cost of using doramectin-based
wormer at turnout and eight weeks later (ie following the 0-8 programme),
then again pre-housing, according to Pfizer’s senior livestock
vet Carolyn Hogan .
“Bearing in mind that the vast majority
of producers use a wormer at housing as a matter of course, this
strategy does not require any additional treatment, just a switch
in timing,” she
says. “Dosage being related to bodyweight, then earlier dosing
also means the quantity of wormer used, and therefore treatment
cost, is lower.”
According to Dr Lowman, the most compelling
reason for following this plan is a reduced pneumonia risk at housing. “If
I had a wish to get rid of one thing from livestock production,
it would be pneumonia,” he says. “It is the biggest
cause of financial loss, not to mention a major welfare problem,
in beef production. If it causes just one fatality, then many more
animals on the same unit will also be affected, will never recover
fully, and will lose money.
“In addition to killing stomach
and gutworms, a five-weeks pre-housing dose of long-acting wormer
will also kill lungworm. Crucially, this timing will also allow
enough time for dead worms to be coughed up and for lung damage
to repair while cattle are still outside and under no stress.
the time of housing, this gives them the best chance of being fully
recovered and as ready as possible for the stresses of housing.”
Lowman warns that, while animals may look physically fit, a surprising
proportion will be carrying some lungworm burden at this time of
the year. “It really is worth making the effort
to treat them in advance of housing,” he urges.
are also going to be vaccinated against pneumonia at that time
of year – with Rispoval® 4, for example – then
the first of two doses can be given at the same time as worming,
adds Carolyn Hogan.
On a practical note, producers have asked what should happen if
a mild and dry autumn allows cattle to be left at grass for longer
than the wormer’s five week duration of activity. Bearing
in mind that the resulting higher growth rates may already have
repaid the whole grazing season’s wormer costs, Ms Hogan
advises an additional wormer treatment at housing.
prevention in mind, Dr Lowman recommends a four-step plan:
treatment with long-acting wormer.
- Pneumonia vaccine.
- Clipping animals’ backs, one clipper
width either side of the backbone from neck to tail-head.
drained, well ventilated, draught-free housing.
where a pre-housing dose is not practicable, Carolyn Hogan says
the next best thing remains Dectomax treatment at housing for a
worm-free and lice-free winter. The doramectin-based wormer offers
a lice-free guarantee.
IMPORTANT CAUTION: Farmers are advised that
this strategy requires a sufficient duration of action from the
wormer used. The persistent effect of the A/I doramectin means
it is the only wormer which can be given up to five weeks pre-housing
and comes with a lice free guarantee over winter. Therefore this
strategy should not be adopted with any other wormer for internal
and external parasite control at housing.
 9th August 2007. Dr Basil Lowman. Speaking at a press briefing,
The Farmers Club, London.
 9th August 2007. Carolyn Hogan MRCVS, Pfizer veterinary
manager. Speaking at a press briefing, The Farmers Club, London.
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