Pre-housing worming improves liveweight gain

Dairy and beef producers can boost liveweight gain by worming suckler beef calves and dairy heifers up to five weeks before housing.

And SAC beef specialist Dr Basil Lowman estimates that growth rates can be boosted by up to 0.15kg a calf a day when the youngstock are treated with a pour-on moxidectin treatment for lungworm and associated pneumonia in the early housing period.

He said: “Treatment for lungworm ahead of housing allows time for dead worms to be coughed up and for lung damage to repair while cattle are still outside and under low stress.

“This gives the best chance for their lungs to be recovered and as ready as possible for the stresses of housing when that time comes.”

He recommended a four-step protocol to prevent pneumonia:

1. Pre-housing treatment with persistent-action wormer

2. Pneumonia vaccine given pre-housing

3. Clipping animals’ backs, one clipper width either side of the backbone from neck to tail-head

4. Well-drained, well-ventilated, draught-free housing

Pfizer vet Andrew Montgomery said: “Bearing in mind that many farmers with cattle at grass will use a wormer at housing as a matter of course, this strategy does not require them to make an additional treatment, just a switch in timing.

“Also, with the dose being related to bodyweight, earlier treatment means the quantity of wormer used, and therefore cost per head, is lower.”

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