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Cold temperatures, ample moisture enhance parasite pressure

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Mother Nature proved challenging for both crop and livestock farmers alike this year.

Producers who turned cattle onto grass are encouraged to be aware of intestinal parasites, whose presence can be aided by cool, wet conditions.

Dr. Joe Gillespie serves as professional services veterinarian for Boehringer Ingelheim. Dr. Gillespie says cattle grazing pastures need to be monitored for internal parasites, such as roundworms. He admits, however, this is not an easy task. Roundworms are as common as external parasites, but less obvious.

“They’re often unseen because they’re internal. Long before you see the external signs, the damage has been done. They’re a costly parasite because we can’t see them,” Dr. Gillespie said. “They cause a great deal of irritation in the stomach where a lot of gastric acids are produced. When you have irritation, you don’t want to eat, which causes a reduced intake in feed.”

Reduced feed intake equates to lower rates of gain, which can hurt calves and yearlings. Roundworms weigh on cattle, regardless of age. Producers should treat their herd for roundworms sooner rather than later. Dr. Gillespie outlines factors influencing the risk of roundworms.

“If you in the south, your risk associated with parasites and parasite loads, could be for eight or nine months out of the year. Damage can be a serious risk factor,” Dr. Gillespie said. “As you move north, the geography and weather change is such that we hear about an increase risk associated with roundworms or any sort of internal parasite in that middle-to-late summer or early fall time period. There’s also conditions associated with weather. If you have more rainfall, wetter conditions, you’ll typically see a greater influence in internal parasites. Cow/calf and yearling operations are at the greatest risk.”

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