Throwing down a challenge to beef rearer-finishers, the Scottish Rural University College (SRUC) has reported that cattle killed after 12-15 month of age “eat their own profits”. Based on data from seven abattoirs over 12 years, they found that reducing slaughter age would improve beef profitability, regardless of breed. Savings on feed, bedding and labour costs made significant contributions to the figures.
The study found, for example, that Limousin-dairy crosses reached peak carcase value at 800 days of age. However, the difference in value between this and 365 days was only £80/head…clearly insufficient to cover the extra costs of the older cattle. Similarly, Holstein Friesian bulls reached peak carcase value at 730 days of age, but were then only worth £135/head more than at 365 days.
According to beef analyst Robert Forster, this means strong demand – and better prices – for younger, better store cattle [Ref ]. He reports breeders and rearers being advised to present stores for sale weighing just short of 500 kilos, so they can be immediately moved onto high energy finishing diets and sold for slaughter weighing in the region of 700 kilos at 60 percent killing out.
To reach this weight at 400 days of age advised by SRUC will demand an average lifetime growth rate, assuming 60kg birth weight, of 1.6kg/day. The SRUC advice means that any deviation from this path will come at a cost.
Clearly, this puts the spotlight on growth rates during autumn grazing, for example, when (a) grass quantity and quality are declining, and (b) internal parasites could be present in performance-impairing numbers.
The parasites in question, of course, are stomach worms, lung worm and liver fluke, but predicting how serious a threat they pose is not an exact business. Summer weather is known to have a bearing. In 2016, it has been warmer and wetter than the long term average, suggesting an increased infection pressure from both stomach worms and lungworm larvae,t it’s also likely to favour mud snail populations, on which the liver fluke life cycle depends.
Clinical parasitic gastro-enteritis caused by stomach worms usually peaks in late summer, especially in a warm wet season like this. With lungworm, be aware that it can strike quickly and kill.
When treatment is required for roundworms or lungworm or both, Zoetis vet Dave Armstrong recommends CYDECTIN® Cattle Pour-On, which persists and protects against reinfection for up to five weeks. Against liver fluke the best course of action is less straightforward and well worth discussing with an SQP in your local Wynnstay store or your vet.
As briefly as possible, development from newly ingested infective larvae to adult egg-laying fluke takes around 12 weeks. Different flukicides are effective against different ranges of this 12-week spectrum. A research study has compared the efficacy of three frequently used flukicides: closantel-ivermectin pour on, clorsulon-ivermectin injection and a triclabendazole-moxidectin combination pour on [Ref ].
With adult fluke the target, the study found all three treatments killed 99%+. However, for the early immature stage, kill rates were 26.8% (closantel-
ivermectin p/o), 29.7% (clorsulon-ivermectin injection) and 90% (triclabendazole-moxidectin p/o). For those flukicides in the same order against late immature fluke, the figures were 90%, 53.2% and 99.5%.
As housing approaches and where both worms and fluke are known targets, an effective programme from Dave Armstrong at Zoetis is to treat appropriate cattle up to five weeks pre-housing with the triclabendazole-moxidectin combination, CYDECTIN® TriclaMox® Cattle Pour-On. Moxidectin’s persistence protects cattle from reinfection by roundworms or lungworm for up to five weeks, at which point housing eliminates the source of reinfection until the following turnout.
In contrast, no flukicide – triclabendazole included – offers persistency. Of the three mentioned above, triclabendazole offers closest to a complete clear out, but still not all of the immature stage.
So during and after a five week pre-housing treatment, surviving immature fluke continue to develop and new infective larvae may also be picked up off pasture. Once cattle have been housed for 12 weeks and all these have developed into adults, treatment with any targeted adult only flukicide will complete the clear out, without any need to reuse a combination wormer.
Returning to SRUC ‘s advice to push cattle on for optimum financial performance, the benefits of effective parasite control can be marked:
Stomach worm control:
Up to 30% increased weight gain and better carcass quality [Ref ]. A 30kg liveweight difference at finishing is possible for animals with good worm control at the end of the grazing system [Ref ].
Increased milk production, faster weight gain, avoidance of severe coughing and deaths. In the absence of control, typical mortality is in the range 1-7%. Though less visible than deaths, sub-clinical infection may have far greater economic consequences. [Ref ]
Liver fluke control:
Higher live weight gain, improved fertility, increased milk production. Overall, the cost of fluke to the UK industry has been estimated at £23 million [Ref ]. Effective control can mean cattle reaching slaughter weight 80 days earlier, yielding £25 to £35 per head financial gain [Ref ].
The narrative above uses abbreviated product names, the full versions of which are as follows:
CYDECTIN 0.5% W/V POUR-ON FOR CATTLE; CYDECTIN TRICLAMOX 5 MG/ML + 200 MG/ML POUR-ON SOLUTION FOR CATTLE.
All CYDECTIN® brands contain moxidectin, POM VPS. CYDECTIN® TriclaMox® contains moxidectin and triclabendazole, POM VPS. For further information please see the product SPC, or contact your veterinary surgeon , SQP or Zoetis UK Ltd, Walton Oaks, Dorking Road, Walton on the Hill, Tadworth, Surrey, KT20 7NS. Customer Support 0845 3008034. www.zoetis.co.uk. Always seek the advice of your medicines provider. Use medicines responsibly (www.noah.co.uk/responsible). AH155/16.
 Zoetis, 2013. Key aspects to consider when rearing dairy calves and heifers, AH290/13.  A Bach & J Ahedo, 2008. Record keeping and economics of dairy heifers. Veterinary Clinics of North America: Food Animal Practice. 24: 117-138.  Robert Forster, 14 April 2016. Beef Industry News, issue no 117.  T Geurden et al, 2012. Veterinary Parasitology doi:10.1016/j.vetpar.2012.04.019.  Control of Worms Sustainably (COWS) www.cattleparasites.org.uk.  Brunsdon, R. V.; Adam, J. L. 1975. New Zealand Society of Animal Production occasional publication 4: 53.  Charlier et al 2014: Trends in Parasitology, Vol. 30, No. 7.  Bennett, R. and Ijpelaar, J. 2005. J Agric Econ 56, 135-144.  EBLEX Beef Briefing No. 10/09, 05 November 2010. http://www.eblex.org.uk/documents/content/publications/p_bb_10_9.liver_fluke051110.pdf.