Gutworms could be reducing dairy farmers’ yields by as much as one billion litres of milk a year and costing farmers millions of pounds, according to new figures.

Data released by Merial Animal Health found over a three-year period and across more than 650 herds, 91% of herds proved to have a high level of gutworm challenge, which could reduce yield by up to 2.2 litres a day.

The results came from a MOO testing service which measures antibodies in the bulk milk and can help indicate the level of challenge from worms in cows, even when they are displaying no clinical symptoms.

Fiona-MacGillivrayMerial Animal Health vet adviser Fiona MacGillivray said: “In adult cattle, gutworm infection tends to be a sub-clinical disease, which therefore goes unnoticed by farmers. But this simple test, available through a vet, can quickly show whether gutworms could be lowering production in the herd.

“Test results can also help predict whether the productivity of the herd could be improved following treatment with the wormer Eprinex, which removes gutworm infections,” she added.

“Based on an average herd size of 123 cows with a high gutworm challenge identified by the MOO test, the losses incurred could have amounted to some 82,000 litres of milk in 2011, resulting in lost income of £22,572 (based on the average farmgate price),” added Ms MacGillivray.

Throughout the next couple of months a special promotion will allow farmers to test their bulk milk using the MOO test for free. Find out more at on the Merial website.

Read more

Read more on gutworm control or get the latest news from Livestock 2012