Worm burdens in animals at pasture are an inevitable fact of farming in Ireland. With calves and yearlings being turned out this Spring, farmers are planning pasture management and should also be putting a worm control plan in place for the entire grazing season. Worms can have a huge effect on both the health and performance of all cattle, in particular ﬁrst-season grazers and yearlings. Whether they are dairy heifer calves, who need to be putting on at least 750g/day to reach sufﬁcient weight to be on target for breeding or beef calves to maximise production, they cannot afford to be pulled back by worm burdens. Worm burdens affect cattle thrive and suppress animal’s appetite which will inevitably affect their daily live weight gain.
Some farmers tend to leave dosing of animals until later in the grazing season, waiting to hear the first few coughs before taking any action with regard to worming. This approach requires quick and accurate recognition of the clinical signs and assumes prompt treatment. It ignores the subclinical element of worm burdens that reduce growth rates as well as allowing pasture contamination to build up earlier in the grazing season.
Worming animals earlier in the grazing season will help reduce the level of worms on the pasture, minimising the worm challenge throughout the grazing season and also has the benefit of dosing animals at lighter weights, thereby using less product and reducing costs.