Case Study: 'Visiting your vet can keep the parasites at bay'
Question: In mid-September, just after weaning, the suckler calves are scouring and not thriving as well as expected. They are grazing with the cows on permanent pasture and have not been dosed yet. What could be the problem?
Answer: There are a number of possibilities. Gutworms are high on the list.
By mid-June, worm eggs, even from the cows, will have hatched and developed into infective larvae (several cycles may have occurred by then).
With moisture and rain, the worms will have moved from dung pats onto the pasture. Close grazing will also increase the larval intake by the calves.
The condition is called parasitic gastroenteritis (PGE).Faecal testing of 10 to 15 dung samples (which may be pooled in the laboratory) will aid the diagnosis.
The dung samples should indicate if you have a heavy worm burden; a medium level of worms, or only a light or insignificant number of worms active on the pasture. Your vet will likely also consider secondary copper deficiency and coccidiosis as part of the possible diagnoses.
Be careful that lungworm levels may also be at critical numbers. If necessary, an appropriate anthelmintic (worm dose) with the appropriate product will deal with this problem. Your farm vet is best placed to advise on the most suitable product on your individual farm.
It is also possible to check the faecal egg counts after dosing to ensure there is no resistance to the anthelmintic used. Therefore, once the wormer has been administered and given time to have worked (say one week later), a random sampling of a few fresh dung samples should show a particularly low or zero egg count.