Beef farmers are being reminded that there are at least four major parasites in beef cattle that need to be addressed at housing.

A high burden of parasites in beef animals can significantly hinder performance and, if left unaddressed, can negatively impact animal health and welfare.

Farmers in many parts of the country have already begun housing livestock for the winter while in other areas, preparations are being made to start doing so.

Failure to control parasites in beef cattle at housing could see significant production losses from reduced weight gain, fertility issues, irreversible lung damage, increased susceptibility to disease and even death, according to Responsible Animal Medicines Advisor (RAMA) Mark Pass from Beeston Animal Health.

The four major parasites farmers need to be conscious of at housing are:

  • Gutworms, (particularly Ostertagia);
  • Lungworm;
  • Fluke;
  • Lice.

“At housing, you are bringing together animals and placing them in close proximity with shared airspace, which aids disease transmission. It can also be a stressful time due to the change in housing, diet and mixing of groups.

“Managing parasites now, eases the pressure on stock and helps ensure they are as productive as they can be,” he outlined.

When it comes to treatment, farmers should consult their vet to identify the best options available.

Where farmers are unsure if gut worms are a problem in their cattle, the best advice is to take a dung sample and get it analysed to identify the worm burden in cattle; however, it is important to remember a dung sample will not identify if a lung worm issue is present in an animal.

Where fluke is an issue, farmers should be conscious that some products may only treat adult fluke and so should plan their treatment date to ensure the highest possible kill of the targeted parasite.

With a lice treatment, all cattle in a shed should be treated as lice can jump from pen to pen and will spread to untreated groups of cattle in a shed.

As well as parasites to contend with, farmers should be conscious of other setbacks which may have to be contended with in cattle at housing also.

Pneumonia is one of the major ones and farmers should consider implementing a vaccination programme for youngstock in particular, at housing.