Reduce Lungworm With Pour On Treatment

UK - Worming suckler beef calves or dairy heifers up to five weeks before housing with a pour-on moxidectin treatment can reduce lungworm and associated pneumonia in the early housing period, according to Pfizer vet Andrew Montgomery.
calendar icon 15 August 2011
clock icon 3 minute read
Pfizer Animal Health

Early worming can also lead to more growth, producing enough extra live-weight gain off autumn grass to cover treatment costs six-fold Mr Montgomery continued.

“Typically, pasture lungworm burdens peak in late autumn,” he says.

“Recent warm weather with intermittent rain has also been conducive to a build up of gastrointestinal worm infectivity on pasture.”

By getting cattle worm-free for five weeks pre-housing, SAC beef adviser Dr Basil Lowman estimates that growth rates could be boosted by up to 0.15kg per head per day.

Over that period, cattle could therefore gain an additional 5.25kg in body weight (35 days x 0.15kg/day = 5.25kg), which at today’s values is worth about £9.50.

This strategy is effective, according to Mr Montgomery, because moxidectin offers long persistency against re-infection by stomach worms (Ostertagia) and lungworm (Dictyocaulus) of five and six weeks respectively from a single dose.

“Bearing in mind that many farmers with cattle at grass will use a wormer at housing as a matter of course, this strategy does not require them to make an additional treatment, just a switch in timing,” he says.

“Also, with the dose being related to bodyweight, earlier treatment means the quantity of wormer used, and therefore cost per head, is lower.”

According to Dr Lowman, the most compelling reason for following this plan is reduced pneumonia risk at housing. “Pneumonia is the biggest cause of financial loss, not to mention a major welfare problem, in cattle rearing,” he says.

“If it causes just one fatality, then many more animals on the same unit will also be affected, will never recover fully, and will lose money."

“Treatment for lungworm ahead of housing allows time for dead worms to be coughed up and for lung damage to repair while cattle are still outside and under low stress,” Dr Lowman continues. “This gives the best chance for their lungs to be recovered and as ready as possible for the stresses of housing when the time comes.”

Moreover, he warns that, while animals may look physically fit at this time of the year, a surprising proportion can be carrying some lungworm burden.

“It really is worth making the effort to treat them before housing,” he urges. With pneumonia prevention in mind, Dr Lowman recommends a four-step protocol:

  • Pre-housing treatment with persistent-action wormer.
  • Pneumonia vaccine given pre-housing.
  • Clipping animals’ backs, one clipper width either side of the backbone from neck to tail-head.
  • Well drained, well ventilated, draught-free housing.

For farms where pre-housing wormer is not practicable, Andrew Montgomery suggests the next best thing is moxidectin pour on at housing.

A winter-long lice-free guarantee is also offered to farmers using this treatment (trade name, CYDECTIN® Pour On for Cattle) by manufacturer Pfizer VPS.

For advice specific to their own units about applying the Control of Worms Sustainably (COWS) recommendations and terms of the lice-free guarantee, farmers should consult their veterinary surgeon or an SQP at their animal medicine supplier.

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