A strategic deworming approach involves more than administering a dewormer annually. It’s about knowing when parasites could be compromising the health of your cattle.
“Timing is critical for strategic deworming programs,” says Gary Sides, Ph.D., Cattle Nutritionist, Pfizer Animal Health Cattle and Equine Technical Services. “Along with timing, selecting the appropriate active ingredient, using proper administration techniques and even taking geography into consideration are all vital parts of getting the most out of your deworming program.”
A strategic program aims to interrupt the lifecycle of the parasite. To do that, cattle producers should deworm their herd twice a year – once in the spring at the beginning of grass green up and again in the fall before winter turnout.
“If spring deworming is done correctly, it can be very beneficial moving into fall because parasite loads are greatly reduced,” Sides says. “Likewise, fall deworming is still very important to clean up any parasites that might have been missed earlier in the year and takes care of the parasites that may overwinter in the cattle.”
When a dewormer is used correctly as part of a strategic deworming program, it can help cow/calf producers ensure that they are feeding cattle, not the parasites, and ultimately allow the animal to utilize forage more efficiently. After determining the appropriate timing and identifying the parasites of concern in the area, the next step is choosing the right dewormer.
“There is not one single product class that is effective against all internal and external parasites,” Sides says. “Your veterinarian is a valuable resource to help pick your battles and maximize efficiencies with the parasite products available to you.”
Sides recommends using a broad spectrum dewormer injectable to control the most economically important parasite — the brown stomach worm, or a pour-on in regions where biting lice or external parasites are a concern. “Implementing a strategic deworming program, could mean big improvements to a producer’s bottom line,” Sides says.
In fact, deworming contributes to a lower cost of production over the lifetime of the animal.
“Strategic deworming programs are one of the most important tools in the toolbox,” Sides says.