Beef farmers must look out for gut worms this autumn as wet and warm conditions are likely to bring an earlier onset of this pasture disease.

According to farm animal vet Peers Davies, roundworms are the most significant parasite facing yearling beef stock at this time of year.

“Production losses are prohibitive if infection is allowed to build up, causing loss of daily liveweight gain, loss of body condition, delayed growth rate in young stock, reduced feed conversion efficiency and reduced immunity to other infectious diseases,” he says.

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Diagnosis can be done by observing clinical signs, completing faecal egg counts and looking at grazing history with a vet, adds Mr Davies.

Cattle worm prevention

There are no vaccines available for gut worms and grazing management is the only true preventative measure, said Mr Davies.

Roundworm key facts

  • Infectious larvae are now hatching in wet, warm parts of the country
  • Causes loss of appetite and severe scouring
  • Affects most animals within the group

As first-season grazers are most susceptible, especially those kept in large groups, the best way to allow them to build immunity is through trickle exposure, he explains.

“Developing a pasture risk assessment with the vet and planning grazing management well ahead for next spring is vital.

“Allowing them on to infected pastures early on before moving to silage aftermaths lowers infection build up and risk of clinical disease.”

Suckled calves on their dam are lower risk as many larvae are picked up and killed in the dam’s gut. However, calves still need to be monitored, especially any being weaned, says Mr Davies.

Strategic anthelmintic doses can be given following vet advice to avoid inappropriate use.

“Over-treating is not to be encouraged as it can give false sense of security. It is dangerous to assume you’ll prevent all parasitic disease with worming; lungworm, for example, requires a vaccine to achieve the best control.”

More information on available anthelmintics

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