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Strategically Worming Cattle

By: Joe Brown
By: Joe Brown

“We think of strategic de-worming as the time when we apply these products to the cattle, so we can get our greatest return for our investment in the product. Generally speaking in South Texas, Southeast Texas in particular, that’s gonna be in the spring and in the fall. We de-worm in the spring for one particular species, and that is probably the most important internal parasite we have, in terms of the gain that it costs us.”

Mac Devin is a field veterinarian with an animal health company.

“In the spring is when we have the best forage quality. It’s when calves are on the ground, they’re growing rapidly, and when we have parasites causing a decrease in performance, it costs us a lot more money.”

It’s important for ranchers to understand the life cycle of internal parasites.

“Basically the egg passes out in the fecal material, it larvates within the fecal pat, and then it crawls out up on the forage and as the animal comes by grazing, it re-infects a new animal.”

Strategically worming means focusing on the period when the most worms are in the cow.

“That time of the year is going to be from about May 1 to about June 15th.”

The worm actually goes into a type of hibernation.

“It knows it’s eggs can’t survive out on the dry pasture in the summertime in the heat, so it becomes dormant and waits for the weather to cool off. So consequently when we have those forms that are dormant, we have the adults in the gastrointestinal system, we can de-worm at those times and eliminate a large part of that population.”

Intestinal parasites attack cattle in two ways.

“Those animals that are parasitized, particularly young animals don’t graze as much, so we lose performance, not only because it’s a blood sucking parasite, but also because it reduces the intake.”

So if you didn’t think it took much thought to produce that premium cut of steak that’s your favorite, think again.


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