If you heard your cattle coughing at grass last autumn, this means they could have been harbouring lungworm burdens that compromise growth rates and lifetime milking performance. Most lungworm cases are reported at the back end of the grazing season.

Unfortunately, lungworm larvae can overwinter on pasture and in carrier cattle to propagate infection year to year, which means cattle can pick up infection as soon as they are turned out in the spring. And if they do, it could be very costly.

It pays to vaccinate.

Vaccination against lungworm is a no brainer. In the dairy herd, lungworm infection could easily cost you £140 per cow with lost milk production averaging 4kg
per cow per day – and that’s a conservative estimate – because you can also lose cattle to lungworm.

Home-reared dairy replacements tend to graze on a separate pasture away from the milking herd and are often treated with long-acting wormers, perhaps in both the first and second grazing seasons. When this replacement group enters the main herd, they have no immunity to lungworm and the risk of a disease outbreak at grass is very high. Lungworm is unpredictable and best controlled through vaccination.

Boost immunity through vaccination

Bovilis® Huskvac is a live vaccine, made from irradiated lungworm larvae, which are incapable of causing disease. Vaccination should be completed at least two weeks before the herd is turned out to grass. Wormers should not be given until two weeks after the final dose of vaccine.

The vaccine allows a small number of lungworm from natural infection to complete their life-cycle, this means there is a continued development of natural immunity throughout the grazing season. Over-reliance on wormers does not allow this natural boosting to occur.

Vaccination with a pre-turnout course of Huskvac is the most reliable and cost-effective way of ensuring the development of immunity to lungworm.

We’ve got a new parasite control planning package in place for this season. For more information on the package and what parasite control options are best, please speak to your vet.