15 October 1999

Worm now – vet

WORM young cattle now, dont wait until housing. That is the message from Glos-based vet, Chris Watson who is concerned about the high number of unthrifty young cattle at grass this autumn.

"It has not been a good grazing season. Wet autumn weather has brought a late flush of parasites, and dry weather now means producers may be tempted to delay housing. But dont wait until housing before worming – worm now," advises Mr Watson.

He believes feeding concentrates is also a must for young cattle still at grass. Almost any straights available on the farm will do. But young cattle need dry feed as their rumens are already too full of grass to cope with supplementary forage, he says.

Many cattle, especially those turned out at only three to four-months-old, now have large bellies and a high level of ringworm due to poor nutrition. Inadequate nutrition rather than copper deficiency or BVD is likely to be the underlying reason for young grazing cattle being in poor condition, explains Mr Watson.

He is concerned that cattle have been turned out too young, before their rumens have developed sufficiently to make good use of grass. "Producers should consider whether dairy calves born after Christmas should be let out in their first summer. Many of these calves do not do well at grass, unlike autumn-born calves which are bigger and have been well-fed indoors over winter."

Where young calves are turned out this should not be too early, cautions Mr Watson. "I saw one group of calves in poor condition that had been turned out in April, which may be too early for young cattle."