Simmental Cow Looking

Managing parasites for productivity during housing

Housing provides an opportunity to address the range of parasites picked up over the grazing season, to maximise cattle health and productivity over the winter.

The questions of which flukicide to use and when to treat can be challenging, complicated further by the increasing concerns over triclabendazole resistance. Understanding the properties of available flukicides is key to making informed treatment decisions.

Table 1 outlines the active ingredients and formulations available and their spectrum of activity.

Spectrum of activity of commonly available controls for parasites

What factors should influence product selection?

Adult fluke burdens have the greatest impact on productivity in cattle, and an abattoir study conducted in Autumn monthsLiveweight gain with flukicides demonstrated that 97% of the fluke present in cattle livers at this time were late immature or adults with only 3% present as early immature.2 This supports the use of a flukicide targeting the later stages of fluke as an effective approach to treatment at housing.

In another study3, beef cattle were housed and treated with either an ivermectin/clorsulon combination (IVOMEC® Super), or ivermectin (IVOMEC® Classic Injection) plus nitroxynil (Trodax®) or Triclabendazole (Fasinex Cattle oral drench), or ivermectin (IVOMEC® Classic Injection) only. There were no significant differences in liveweight gain between the different flukicide groups, as shown in Chart 2. The study found that flukicide treatment of animals that had positive fluke egg counts at housing resulted in significantly higher weight gain over the 112-day trial period than cattle that were not treated.

It is also worth noting that cattle that were negative for fluke eggs at housing grew on average 20.5kg more than those that were positive, irrespective of treatment, so it is important to remember the other objective of controlling parasites – reducing pasture contamination – and view the housing dose as a way of reducing challenges from parasites next year.

Treating at the point of housing will ensure that animals benefit immediately from production improvements associated with fluke control. Remember, no product is effective down to the very first day of infection: in order to ensure that treatment benefits continue throughout housing and that animals are turned out fluke-free, either test and retreat if necessary or retreat strategically later during housing. The interval for testing/treating will depend on the product used – your vet or SQP can advise on the best approach for your farm.

1. Adapted from Fairweather and Boray, The Veterinary Journal 1999, 158, 81–112
2. MacGillivray F et al., Intern J Appl Res Vet Med 2013. 11(1): 1-6
3. Forbes AB et al., Veterinary Record 2015. 176(13):333

Wynnstay Allvit T Plus

The importance of trace element nutrition pre-tupping

Grazing alone cannot always be relied upon to maximise ewe and ram fertility. We should not be complacent about mineral and trace element deficiencies pre-tupping, which is an important time of the flock reproduction cycle.

Even when grass growth has been good, essential trace elements can still be deficient and hinder fertility. Forage trace element analysis from across the UK has consistently found a lack of cobalt, selenium and other trace elements. This is often the case even at sites which have good quality grazing.

Thought should be given to the way trace-elements are provided in the diet. Trace element drenches such as Wynnstay AllVit T are an effective way of supplying a range of minerals quickly and effectively.

Preparations for tupping should start up to 8-10 weeks before the rams are turned out with the ewes, but at the very latest, six weeks before tupping commences. Give yourself plenty of time to rectify any problems or source replacement stock. Pay close attention to the key components of the diet to ensure fertility levels across the whole flock are maximised. Getting micronutrition right pre tupping will support fertility, and will lead to the best chance of a good scanning result and a healthy lamb crop in 2018. Drench ewes 3-4 weeks pre tupping to help ensure this.

Don’t forget the tups! All too often they can be neglected, and as they contribute 50% of the genetics to the flock, it is important that their condition is considered as well as the ewes pre-tupping. For example, sperm production typically takes six to eight weeks, so start ram preparations early, at the same time as ewes, to ensure this isn’t compromised. Consider drenching tups at 8 weeks and 4 weeks pre-tupping.

Who needs what trace elements pre-tupping?

Find out more about trace element nutrition pre-tupping from your local Wynnstay Animal Health Specialist.

Illustrating Transverse and Spinous processes

How to body condition score ewes?

In order to increase performance in any flock, it is important to consider regular body condition scoring (BCS) in oIllustrating Transverse and Spinous processesrder to identify any drastic changes in ewe condition not noticeable through observation alone. Through this you can ensure that ewes are on target for the system and the time of year, and in turn will result in improved fertility, increased lamb performance and reduced incidence of metabolic diseases.

Baby calves in a barn

Later is better when it comes to weaning.

Calf weaning is always a topic of much discussion and debate; it is difficult to filter through advice and figure out what is best for your farm. I have sat around many farm kitchen tables and had the same discussion. As a calf specialist, I would always recommend weaning later, and using a step down weaning method but don’t just take my word for it, let’s have a look at some of the research.

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