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Agriculture and Food
Worm control in beef cattle
Brown Besier, Principal Veterinary Parasitologist and Jenny Cotter, Veterinary Officer, Albany
Worms and worm disease
against larvae newly picked-up from pasture. Large burdens of parasitic worms lead to reduced productivity in cattle. Typical signs are diarrhoea • Benzimidazoles (white drenches, for example, The major worm parasite of cattle in winter rainfall Fenbendazole Oral® Fencare®, Panacur®, areas is the brown stomach worm, (Ostertagia Systamex®)—oral drench and rumen injection. ostertagi). Other worms are black scour worm Effective against al adult worms, and about 90 (Trichostrongylus), the thin-necked intestinal to 95 per cent effective against larval Ostertagia. worm, (Nematodirus), hair worm (Cooperia) • Levamisole (clear drenches, for example, and the large bowel worm (Oesophagostomum Levamisole Gold LV®, Coopers Nilverm oral or pour on® , WSD levamisol®)—oral drench, ‘Winter scours’ often occur in yearling cattle and injectable and pour on. Less effective against occasional y in adults. Where brown stomach adult worms than other types and has a limited worm Ostertagia is the main parasite this disease effect against larval Ostertagia.
is referred to as ‘Ostertagiosis’.
Signs typical of worm disease may be due Drenching programs
to other causes. If a drench does not stop Even if signs of worms are not seen every year, the scouring or lead to improvement in body there may stil be a loss of weight gain, which is a common but hidden cost of parasites. A routine worm control program is worthwhile insurance, Drenches
especially in high and medium rainfall areas.
The ML (macrocyclic lactone) group of drenches are usual y the most suitable treatments where Beef calves rarely suffer from worm parasitism it is important to remove the larval stages of before weaning and routine treatment is not Ostertagia for instance, as in a strategic program, in mid summer. This group of drenches includes ivermectin, abamectin and moxidectin.
Drench in summer when weaning with an ML Other types of drenches may be useful for treating or a white drench. If using a white drench, and disease caused by worms in winter and spring.
worm disease has been a severe problem on the Residues of some of the ML drenches in cattle property in past years, a fol ow up should be given dung may have a harmful effect on dung beetles, one month later (a single treatment only with an particularly in the breeding stages. However, dung ML is necessary).
beetles in WA breed mainly in the spring months when it is not usually necessary to drench cattle.
drenching program provides good control of There are three major drench groups:
worms in beef yearlings. If there has been a history • ML’s (for example, abamectin, Avomec®; of worm problems on the farm then an additional drench in May with a white drench or an ML may Bomectin®; moxidectin, Cydectin®, Cydectin® formulations. Effective against al adult and larval stages with some long acting effect The Chief Executive Officer of the Department of Agriculture and Food and the State of Western Australia accept no liability whatsoever by reason of negligence or otherwise arising from the use or release of this information or any part of it.
For more information visit Two year olds/first calf heifers In some herds these cattle suffer from worm disease more than the adults. If this is the case, a routine summer treatment may be warranted.
Adult cowsWorm disease is rarely a problem in mature cows and no routine treatment is recommended. Cases of disease in individual animals should be treated when it occurs.
BullsBul s suffer from parasitic diseases more than cows and a routine summer drench is advisable. As the breeding program depends on the bul s, a drench before joining may be a good precaution.
Ostertagiosis Type 2
A different form of worm disease, ‘Ostertagiosis
Type 2’, can cause severe effects but is fortunately rare in Western Australia. It occurs when there is a mass emergence of larval stages of Ostertagia from the gut wal . This causes severe damage to the gut, and is seen as profuse scouring, rapid dehydration and death if not treated. It occurs especial y in adult cattle, particularly in bul s, during late summer and autumn.
If this disease is suspected a vet should be contacted to confirm the diagnosis, discuss treatment and its prevention.
Note: Mention of trade names does not imply
endorsement or preference of any company’s product by the Department of Agriculture and Food, and any omission of a trade name is unintentional. Recommendations were current at the time of preparation of this publication.
Copyright Western Australian Agriculture Authority, 2009 Copies of this document are available in alternative formats upon request.
3 Baron-Hay Court South Perth WA 6151Tel: (08) 9368 3333 Email: [email protected] Website:


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