Many of you, like me, may think it’s too late in the season to be thinking about parasites, but the truth is …parasites are persistent little blighters that never ever give up!
So, I have done a bit of research of the main culprits and pulled together some key bits of information for you all the think about, I have also created a bit of fun for the younger generation to have a go at.
Ectoparasite number tend to rise during the housing period, this is due to the frequent and close contact between the animals in a warm environment. The thicker winter coats also provide offer protection from the elements as the winter. The biting parasites can cause significant health problems through transmission of bacterial disease and protozoa.
Signs and Symptoms
- Itching/ Rubbing
- Hair Loss
- Self-inflicted Trauma which can lead to a secondary bacterial disease
- Weight Loss due to disruption in feeding behaviours
The thicker winter coats also provide offer protection from the elements as the winter. The biting parasites can cause significant health problems through transmission of bacterial disease and protozoa.
What to do now?
Keep a close eye on all stock and speak to your vet or SQP if you are worried
Due to having a dry start to the summer the risk period may have been pushed back to late Autumn so it is key that we are very observational with any stock
that is still out grazing. Liver fluke can be a serious problem in both cattle and sheep. The highest risk areas are known as ‘Flukey Pastures’ these are predominantly very wet and mild areas where the snails may reside.
Signs and Symptoms
- General dullness, shortness of breath, anaemia
- Rapid weight loss
- Bottle Jaw (Fluid Accumulation)
- Sudden Death
Monitoring and what to do now?
- Routine blood sampling to monitor for rising antibodies – particularly effective for first grazing season. Treating with a flukicides early Autumn could contribute to drug resistance so ensure to check you need to treat before you go straight in.
- Routine bulk milk sample for herd level infection
- Faecal testing can diagnose infection in individuals, but this is not as useful for monitoring acute infection
- Pastures previously grazed by fluke infected sheep should be considered a risk to cattle and vice versa
- Identify ‘flukey’ areas on farm and avoid grazing during risk periods
- Ensure to post-mortem any sudden loss of Stock…it could save others!
- Should you have to treat your animals, don’t forget to follow up with a resistance test 21 days post treatment
Did you know?
Ticks are only present on cattle for blood feeding
Co-grazing cattle and sheep can increase the risk of liver fluke
Housing of growing animals seems to be the most effective time to treat animals that may have acquired worm burdens over the grazing season without the risk of animals becoming re-infected and the added benefit of improved feed efficiency and growth rates. If these gut worms are not treated upon housing, they can remain dormant until late winter/early spring due to a mass emergence causing ostertagiosis.
Monitoring and what to do now
- Monitor and record weights/growth/production regularly
- Treat according to your vet should there be evidence of infestation
- Refer to your parasite control plan (this should be within your HHP)
- Speak to your vet or SQP
- DO NOT treat the same as you have always done…this could result in resistance!