6 tips for a good livestock parasite control plan

January is the best time for livestock farmers to plan out a parasite control strategy for the year ahead.

A robust and practical programme will help reduce disease burdens, economic costs and selection for anthelmintic resistance, according to National Animal Disease Information Service (Nadis).

You can get help on starting a parasite control plan by:

  • Planning with veterinary advice
  • Reading the Cows or SCOPS information
  • Consulting the Nadis control planner – planners are free but only available through vets 
  • Doubling up: Incorporate parasite control into seasonal activities such as weaning, turnout, housing and shearing

See also: Health experts launch new aids for parasite control

Here are six tips to help with your planning.

1. Consider seasonal risk and farm history of disease

  • Think about issues you have had in the past and when these occurred.
  • Use the Nadis parasite forecast to highlight specific seasonal and regional parasite risks.

2. Identify at-risk animals

  • Younger animals are, in general, more susceptible to parasitic diseases, particularly calves and lambs entering their first and potentially second grazing season.

3. Choose and rotate anthelmintic products

4. Undertake diagnostic and performance testing

  • Diagnostic tests such as worm egg counts provide useful information when deciding treatment and pasture management options.
  • Performance testing (looking at daily liveweight gain) can also help provide a more targeted approach to worm control by identifying the worst affected animals.
  • Diagnostics and performance tests can identify issues before they become severe, reduce anthelmintic resistance and improve dosing times.

5. Ensure biosecurity and quarantine measures are in place

  • Newly purchased animals should be treated and held prior to turnout to pastures to prevent introducing anthelmintic resistance on the farm.

6. Identify “safe” and “contaminated” grazing

  • Contaminated pastures are those that have been grazed by infected animals early in the year or in the previous season.
  • Safe pastures have not been previously grazed, such as newly reseeded leys and silage and hay aftermaths.
  • Pastures previously grazed by sheep and generally safe for cattle and vice-versa.
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