Strategies for parasite control in young animals
ONE OF the main reasons for the lack of thrive in young cattle at grass is due to infection by parasites. The main parasites are gut (stomach) worms, lungworms (hoose), liver fluke and rumen fluke. In young stock severe infection can reduce growth rates by up to 30pc. This will make it very difficult to achieve target weights for age for both beef animals and replacement heifers.
There are three key areas to controlling parasites in young animals.
1 Identify the risk
Young stock particularly artificially reared calves at grass for the first time are most at risk of infection as they are eating reasonable amounts of grass and have very little immunity developed. But other grazing cattle exposed to worms may also suffer production losses.
Permanent grassland grazed by livestock in the previous couple of months poses a very high risk of infection. Young animals should ideally graze, new reseeds, after silage has been cut or grass that has had no stock for greater than six months.
Worm build up on grass over the grazing season and infective stages generally peak from mid- summer onwards.
2 Treat correctly
Monitoring of animals is a critical strategy that can be used.