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Health is your wealth!


September brings a change of season & shift in focus. A housed animal is the most expensive animal on the farm eating silage & concentrates in a costly shed. We need to do everything to ensure that there's nothing hampering their performance. Martina Harrington Teagasc Beef Specialist tells us more.

September brings with it a change of season and a shift in focus. We now turn our attention to closing up paddocks for early grazing next spring and getting cattle ready for housing. A housed animal is the most expensive animal on the farm eating silage and expensive concentrates in a costly shed. It is therefore vital that we do everything to ensure that there is nothing hampering their performance.

The main factors which will affect the performance of an animal during housing are:

  1. Diet
  2. Health status
  3. Ventilation
  4. Lying area
  5. Feed area
  6. Access to water

After diet, the health status of an animal is most important. Parasites such as stomach worms, lungworm and fluke along with viruses such as IBR, RSV and PI3, can have a serious effect on animal performance. Animals may eat the same but put on a fraction of the weight, costing you money.

Viruses - Prevention is the only cure

Viruses really are a tricky business as the Corona Virus has shown. You can’t go in with a quick fix of antibiotics or a dose if a problem arises. The only form of defence is prevention which is in the form of a suitable vaccination programme and the proper environment in the shed.

Viruses can happen anytime but the stress of weaning, castration and especially housing can bring on the symptoms. These viruses can reduce the performance of your animal either slightly, so many farmers are unaware they are present and performance is affected – costing money. Or they can cause major outbreaks of pneumonia causing actual deaths and excessive vet bills. In housed cattle the main viruses we are concerned with are respiratory - IBR, RSV and PI3. Unlike the Corona Virus we do have vaccines for these that work.

For vaccines to work properly, you must follow the vaccination programme for the product being used to the letter. The programme will be dependent on what viruses are present and what product is used, so each farm will be different. For example, if vaccinating weaning’s for the first time for RSV and PI3, they should be started on their vaccination programme a month before weanling and two months before housing. So give the first shot 1st of September, give the booster 4 weeks later at weaning (29th September) and house a month later. An IBR vaccine could also be given with the booster shot at weaning. This allows plenty of time for immunity to develop. If the weanlings were vaccinated as calves they should receive their booster shot a month before weaning/castration.

Tip- There are several products’ available and different combinations of vaccines. A vaccination calendar is extremely useful and can be draw up with your vet.

Vaccination is not a silver bullet for all things respiratory. Proper ventilation is also extremely important; your shed should not be stuffy but have a good air flow. Animals must also have enough lying space, feed space and access to fresh water right if animals are to be healthy. Otherwise the stress on the animals and the build-up of organisms will break down any vaccine.

Parasites – Could they be limiting the weight gain of your animals?

The weather we are experiencing now, warm and wet is ideal for growing worms. Be very vigilent for signs of coughing and scouring, especially in young stock.

Lungworm: can cause physical damage to the lungs, therefore dosing should be considered at least four weeks before housing to allow any damage to the lungs to heal before animals come into sheds where they will face a dustier, more enclosed environment. There is no reported anthelmintic resistance in lungworm. TIP If you use a product with persistency (e.g. avermectin) you can do your housing dose for lung and stomach worms at this stage, just check the product as to what the length of persistency is and house before it’s up.

Stomach worms: Can be treated like lungworm or at housing. There is, however, anthelmintic resistance in stomach worms.

Anthelmintic Resistance is where the parasite we are looking to control has the ability to tolerate the normally effective dose of the anthelmintic being used. In work carried out by Orla Keane (Teagasc) they found resistance to Ivermectin on 100% of farms tested, 75% of farms tested had resistance to the white drenches and 25% had resistance to the yellow drenches. It is thought that levamisole is used less, thus reducing exposure of the stomach worm population to this product. This may account for the higher efficacy of this drug.

  1. Tip. You can check if a product works on your farm by carrying out a faecal egg count (FEC) before and after dosing – see Teagasc.ie for how.

There are currently three classes of wormers licenced in Ireland to control worms, see table XX

CLASSCOMMON NAMECHEMICALSAMPLE PRODUCTS
Benzimidazole White (1-BZ)

Albendazole

Fenbendazole

Oxfenbendazole

Albex, Endospec, Tramazole

Panacur, Zerofen, Fenben

Oxfencare, Parafend,Wormal
Levamisole Yellow (2–LV) Levamisole* Levacide, Vermisole
Macrocyclic Lactone Clear (3-ML)

Ivermectin

Doramectin

Eprinomectin

Moxidectin

Animec, Bimectin, Qualimec

Dectomax

Eprinex

Cydectin

Anthelmintics from different classes (e.g. 1-BZ, 2-LV or 3-ML) have different modes of action, but within a class, products have the same mode of action. When resistance develops to one product within a class, then all the products in the same class will become useless on your farm. Therefore rotating active ingredients while also giving the correct dose and in the right way will help to minimise the risk of anthelmintic resistance on your farm and should be discussed with your vet.

*Tip- Do not use a levamisole at housing as they do not kill inhibited larvae which could re-emerge in January/February.

Fluke is present on most farms and must always be considered at housing. If killing cattle, check with the factory if fluke were present in the livers or use Farm Beef Health Check data available on ICBF

Dosing for fluke is complicated by the fact that there are many products and they kill different stages of the parasite and there is no persistency, it kills what is there on the day of dosing. It therefore depends on how long the cattle are housed as to what product you should use. See table below.

Active ingredientSample productDose after cattle housed Admin routeWithdrawal
Triclabendazole

Endofluke 10%

Fasinex 240

Tribex 10%

2 weeks

2 weeks

Early immature

&

Immature

&

adult fluke

Oral drench

Oral drench

Oral drench

56 days

56 days

56 days
Closantel

Closamectin inj Closamectin Pour-on

Flukiver bovis

 

7 weeks

7 weeks

8 weeks
Immature & adult fluke

Injection

Pour-on

Injection

49 days

28 days

77 days
Nitroxynil Trodax 8 weeks Immature & adult fluke Injection  
Albendazole

Albex 10%

Endospec 10%

10 -12 weeks

10 -12weeks

 
Adult Fluke

Oral drench

Oral drench

14 days

14 days

 
Clorsulon

Bi mectin plus

Ivomec super

10 -12weeks

10 -12 weeks
Adult Fluke

Injection

Injection

66 days

66 days
Oxyclozanide

Levafas Diamond

Zanil

10- 12 weeks

10 -12 weeks
Adult Fluke

Oral Drench

Oral Drench

28 days

13 days

E.g. If you use Trodax at housing, this will only kill immature and adult fluke but not early immature and you will have to dose again in 8 weeks when the early immature fluke have developed.

Tip:Be careful with withdrawal dates if you are killing cattle.

Winter is also the most common time to see infestations of external parasites such as lice and mange and these should be considered when selecting treatments. Injectable and pour-on products can be used for mange and sucking lice but only pour-on products are effective against chewing lice.