Rumen fluke stalls thrive in young heifers

John Joyce

John Joyce

I have now decided that we have sufficient silage saved for the coming winter. Meadows became very heavy in the end with good growing conditions.

For the remainder of the grazing season I intend to use all after grass for grazing. It is probably a good year to save additional feed, but I think there is no point in going overboard and not leaving enough grass for the stock.

On the calf-to-beef enterprise we sometimes forgot that all stock is increasing in size and live weight and have an increasing appetite as the year passes by.

The topper is now only starting its annual tour of the farm. Until the silage ground came back into the rotation, grazing was getting a bit tight with some low night-time temperatures not helping.

One advantage of having suckler cows on the farm is being able to graze out fields without affecting their production, leaving very little work for the topper if they are managed correctly.

All the grazing ground could probably do with another round of fertiliser, but ground around here might be getting a little dry as we missed a lot of the thundery showers that fell elsewhere over the last few weeks.

All animals seem to be thriving okay, with all having access to high phosphorus mineral blocks.

But one batch of 18-month-old heifers had been showing a complete lack of thrive since turnout to the point where they were losing weight. It was disappointing and puzzling to say the least.

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These heifers had a fluke and lungworm dose during the housing period so I thought all parasites were covered.

They were on ad-lib silage for the winter and were turned out to good grass. After a few weeks we decided to take a dung sample. They tested positive for rumen fluke and had obviously carried it over the winter months.

We had never seen or treated this problem on the farm before. There is always something new to be on the lookout for. Looking back it was probably my own fault.

These heifers were housed late due to the dry autumn and were grazing on what would be wet ground on any other normal year.

As the backend was so dry we were trying to utilise the excellent grass growth as best we could. Speaking to other farmers west of us they had the same problem a number of years ago, but it was mainly after wet summers, and it occurred in older animals like the suckler cow.

These cattle along with a few more suspect cases were dosed with Levafas Diamond. I have never seen a dose to work so well or to turn around cattle in such a short space of time.

It is a dose that requires weight levels to be carefully and accurately calibrated.

The dose also covers lungworms and adult liver fluke and it will be probably a dose of choice when we house the cattle this coming winter. Staying with the one product just because it works well is not always the best approach.

On the sheep side of the fence, about half of the lambs are on creep feed.

Lambs are being drafted weekly at 43kg, up from 42kg earlier in June.

This will compensate for them killing out with a lower percentages and help maximise returns.

I intend to stay creep feeding to push for a higher number of stock sales. All lambs have been treated with Clickzin which has a very short withdrawal.

The male lambs have been left entire this year. I have noticed a greater level of thrive with them this year, but, as with the young bulls, they require a greater level of management with feed and females. It shows that we could exploit the natural male hormone in these animals for greater feed efficiency.

Indo Farming

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