Deworming Tips for Success

Do you ever wonder if your deworming program is working like it should? Performing routine diagnostic tests can help you find out. Dr. John Davidson, senior associate director of beef professional services at Boehringer Ingelheim shares his advice on diagnostic testing and how to set your deworming program up for success.

“Really, it comes down to managing what you measure. that’s an adage that’s often repeated. We can make similar parallels to what we do with nutrition and testing forage for our cattle. Ultimately, you want to see how well the products that you’re using are working in your, herd at your location. So, the opportunity is to do a very basic inexpensive evaluation or analysis of manure samples and see what the population of parasites is and ultimately how the cattle are responding to treatment as it relates to what happens in subsequent samples that were collected.” 

Dr. Davidson says there are two diagnostics tests available.

“You can initially start out with basic surveillance, how wormy are the cattle. You can follow up with how well do the cattle respond to treatment, and that’s done by following behind the same number of cattle, you would sample those cattle at the time of treatment and then sample those cattle ten to 14 days later, and you want to look at the reduction. And you expect a 90 percent reduction in minimum over that baseline collection, and that is called the fecal egg count reduction test, and that is really the gold standard of evaluating the efficacy of a deworming strategy. Further, once those organisms are recovered, those eggs can actually be hatched out in a laboratory setting, and then a trained professional can determine what species of parasites are present.” 

He says there are also management issues to consider.

“Situations where I’ve seen the warming failures, there has been just a gap in the management of the cattle on the premise. So, forage management, pasture management, stocking rates, are things to continually keep in mind. We know that the parasites are going to reside at the lower levels of the grass and if we over graze, cattle are grazing much closer to the ground, the transmission is really elevated. So, the stewardship of the forage resource is really as critical as the timely treatment with certain products. The other thing is using the diagnostic testing, using products according to label, making sure that we are treating with compounds and products that we have a lot of faith and confidence in, that we’re treating at the right dosage. Collectively, those are the things that I think will help ensure that the parasite program that you have employed that your ranch and capital operation will serve you well. “