Identifying Parasites in Cattle

As more producers are choosing to deworm their herds, obvious signs of parasites are much less common. Now the signs are often subtle but eventually surface as poor performance and lower average daily gains. Dr. DL Step, professional services veterinarian at Boehringer Ingelheim, shares his tips on developing a deworming program to boost herd performance and profitability. Dr. Step explains there are two ways parasites can exist within an animal…

Clinical parasitism, which an animal is exhibiting clinical signs, rough hair coat generally, gaining less weight than expected or even potentially lose weight, appetite will be suppressed. Some of them will exhibit scours and even sometimes in some bigger infections, those animals will accumulate fluid underneath their jaw. Now, that’s in contrast to what we call subclinical parasitism. Those animals, when you look at them, you cannot tell that they may be infected, that those situations can impact the production of those animals significantly.”

The best time to administer a dewormer depends on several factors. He says you should work with your veterinarian to develop a plan…

“I always recommend working with your veterinarian to develop a customized preventive health protocol program for each individual operation. Proper timing will depend upon a lot of the geography and the particular climate or season. Spring time is always a good time that we need to focus on controlling parasites, that there’s some recent studies published in which heifers were dewormed in the fall and actually, they showed an increase in production and efficiency during that period of time, so it’s not just a one size fits all.

To ensure your dewormer pays off, Dr. Step says it’s important to use a long-lasting dewormer and to follow label directions…

“Always look for a dewormer medication that has an active ingredient that has demonstrated very good efficacy. Make sure that everybody reads and follows label directions carefully. Dosage should be on an individual basis or based on the heaviest weight animal in a particular group population or herd. Consult with your veterinarian to help customize a deworming program for your particular operation. And then lastly, make sure that you monitor the results to ensure that the deworming medication is paying off for each individual producer.