5 Simple Steps to Fight Parasites
Planning for parasite protection should be top of mind for cow/calf producers before branding and spring turnout each year. Parasites can leave a path of destruction on any herd, but controlling them is as simple as knowing a few key tips.
1. Read and understand the label.
To help achieve the best possible results from deworming products, it is important to be aware of the label indications for the product being used.
“When deworming time rolls around, it is extremely important to read the label every time to ensure you are dosing correctly, reducing the risk for side effects and not creating resistance,” said Gary Sides, PhD, Zoetis Cattle Technical Services. “Not giving cattle the full, labeled dose provides parasites the opportunity to become resistant and prevents cattle from reaching their performance potential.
Dr. Sides also encourages a close look at the approved label indications for use in young calves. Some dewormers are not approved for calves less than three months of age or if raised on intensive pasture rotation systems.
“Dewormers must be used according to the label directions. That includes administering the product only on animals for which it is approved and not using it on calves unless the label says it is an approved use,”
Dr. Sides noted. “It’s important to protect calves from parasites while they are on pasture this summer so choose a dewormer that is approved for use in young calves. When they are not battling parasites, calves are healthier and put their energy toward growth.”
2. Injectable vs. Pour-on.
Depending on geographic location, choosing an injectable or pour-on product can differ because of different weather conditions as well as the types of parasites in the area. Dr. Sides recommends treating cattle with an injectable, like Dectomax in the spring and Dectomax Pour-On in the fall. For producers in the Gulf States and Oregon, Washington and California, treatment recommendations are reversed to accommodate for different parasite control needs.
“Injectables really do the best job on internal parasites, but lice control is better with pour-ons,” he explained. “I tend to be more concerned with internal parasites since they can do the most to slow down growth, feed intake and feed efficiency.”
3. Store and handle products carefully
Storage and handling also can influence product efficacy. Most products list the appropriate temperature range for storage on the product packaging or label. Be sure to follow label indications closely to ensure that producers are getting the most bang for their buck.
“Regardless of what animal health product you are administering, it is important to check the label before each use,” Dr. Sides said. “Too often, product labels are taken for granted. Help ensure product effectiveness by storing products at appropriate temperatures.”
4. Practice proper application techniques
When using pour-on products, it is important to ensure proper application techniques. Avoid applying product onto dirty animals as it can be absorbed into the dirt rather than the hide. Also, it is possible that general herd behaviors such as rubbing and licking can reduce the amount of effective product on the animal.
“Convenience often has its drawbacks,” Dr. Sides noted. “There are some circumstances that keep a pour-on from working as well as it could. Dirt and manure on the animal can reduce the amount of product absorbed into the hide, so it is important to apply pour-on onto animals that are as clean as possible. Rain, snow and sleet can often wash the product off if not given sufficient absorption time, so when possible, plan application around the weather.”
When applying a pour-on dewormer, pour the proper dose down the entire backline of the animal – not just on one spot.
5. Consider geographic location
Deworming times can vary depending on geographic location, but it is recommended to deworm at green-up in the spring and turnout in the fall.
“Producers should work with their veterinarian to develop a solid deworming program that is best for their herd,” Dr. Sides said. “These factors, as well as numerous other things, can change the recommendation for which products should be used from one herd to another.”