How to achieve season-long worm control
It is well known that both intestinal worms and lung worms can cause both serious disease and a lack of performance, but how can you ensure season-long worm control?
With the development of more modern wormers, serious disease is less common but many farmers are not aware that they may not be achieving as good performance as they could due to worm burdens.
Calving down heifers for the first time at two years of age is now generally accepted as the industry standard and there has been much research to show that this is the most profitable system. For heifers to achieve this target, they need to grow at 700-800 grams per day.
All things being equal this is easily achievable, so long as they do not receive any upsets along the way. Potential problems include calf scour and calf pneumonia before weaning and now they face the challenges of parasites at grass like stomach and gut worms, lungworm or hoose, coccidiosis and liver & rumen fluke.
Most Irish heifer calves will be turned to grass soon after weaning and will be expected to thrive on our most economical cattle feed stuff; fresh grass.
Ireland is known for its ability to grow large quantities of good quality grass. This is due to the skill and experience of our farmers but also to the beneficial weather system we have for grass growth, namely warm and damp! These conditions are ideal for grass production but they are also ideal for the survival and transmission of both gut and lung worms.
When grass is hoping out of the ground in the early summer, it is frequently the case that infective worm burdens on the pasture are also increasing rapidly and this potential problem is “lurking in the long grass” to catch out the unwary.
Intestinal worms can cause scour but before the dirty back ends are spotted, these animals will already be suffering from a dip in performance where their appetite has been depressed by stomach worms, their ability to digest effectively is being affected by liver fluke and there will be some lung damage caused by hoose worms.