Offset High Feed Costs With Worming Strategy

UK - High feed costs this winter for beef and heifer rearers can be offset to a worthwhile extent by good choice of summer-long worming strategy, according to Pfizer VPS vet David Bartram.
calendar icon 24 January 2011
clock icon 2 minute read
Pfizer Animal Health

He says maximising growth rates at grass can allow feed cost economies next winter. Otherwise, many farmers are forced to compensate for poor weight gain at grass, according to Eblex, by pushing for unduly high growth rates during the next housing period.

Eblex consultant Charlie Morgan says growth rates of 1.2kg/day are achievable in May and June with good management practices. However, if 0.5kg/day of potential growth was lost over a six-month grazing season, then 90kg of catch up growth could be necessary next winter, calculates Mr Bartram. At 10:1 feed conversion, he says this would require 900kg of feed, which at £160/tonne would cost £144/head. On the other hand, he suggests optimising growth over the whole grazing season and thereby avoiding the need to feed so heavily could help save most or all of this potential cost.

Among the management tactics required for optimising live-weight gains at grass, an important one is season-long worm control, advises Mr Bartram. “Worm infections can reduce summer growth rates well before visible signs are present,” he explains. “So adopting a season-long control plan can make a worthwhile impact on rearing costs.”

If the convenience of a single treatment at turnout is wanted, Mr Bartram advises either a pulse-release oxfendazole bolus (trade name, Autoworm) or long-acting 10 per cent moxidectin injection given into the back of the ear (trade name, CYDECTIN 10 per cent LA for Cattle). For farmers who prefer a pour-on formulation, he says 0.5 per cent moxidectin treatments at turnout and then eight to 10 weeks later will normally provide whole-season cover (trade name, CYDECTIN Cattle Pour On). “In addition to killing worms, all these options can allow sufficient exposure to worms for the development of natural immunity,” Mr Bartram adds.

To ensure season-long protection using the dosing strategies suggested, cattle must be set-stocked for the entire grazing season. For specific advice about choice of worming programme, farmers are advised to consult their vet or an SQP adviser at their animal medicines supplier.

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