Dosing and vaccination at housing
'How do I know if my cattle need dosing?' is a common question in farmers' minds as the housing period rapidly approaches. The transition indoors is an excellent opportunity to control parasites, with an effective dosing strategy now potentially keeping cattle free of fluke and worms until they are turned out to pasture next spring.
The table below details the common parasites in cattle and the clinical signs associated with heavy infestations. Worryingly, cattle with light or moderate burdens can be difficult to identify other than a vague sense of poor thrive. But these under-performers are serious deadweights on profits by failing to convert expensive winter fodder into liveweight gains.
Before deciding on the best dosing strategy, the parasite status of the herd must be identified. The easiest way to do this is to take faecal samples. Group cattle into three groups: calves, second season grazers and cows. Take 10-15 individual fresh samples from each group. These samples can be pooled in the lab to keep costs down. (A bulk milk sample in the dairy herd can be a helpful addition to faecal samples). The results will detail exactly what parasites are present on the farm and at what level.
What's the best dose to use?
The answer is different for every farm. There are numerous dosing products on the market at the moment, many of which are combinations. Here are the key things to consider when choosing.
Is it active against parasites that were found in the samples? Only certain doses treat rumen fluke. Similarly, only certain wormers treat Type II ostertagia.