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Working Ranch April/May 2016

overall parasite levels low enough to prevent economic losses while at the same time retaining some refugia. Age does matter when it comes to parasite control. Young animals are most susceptible to parasite problems, so deworming programs should focus on weaning to yearling age range calves and sick or low conditioned cows. When bringing in new additions to the herd, Armstrong says to deworm the whole group with anthelmintics based on recommendations from your veterinarian then dry lot the animals for 48 hours before turning out onto contaminated pasture rather than clean. “You won’t eliminate refugia this way,” he explains. “This will help prevent resistant parasites from coming onto the ranch.” If a cow is more than fi ve years old Armstrong says deworming is not a priority. Unless an individual animal has problems, a rancher can help fi ght the effects of parasitism if the animal is in a proper plan of nutrition. TALK TO YOUR VETERINARIAN Hildreth is supportive of building and using a relationship with a local veterinarian for effective parasite control. He says vets will begin a customized program by asking if the rancher currently has a strategy for refugia. “Every producer has different management systems that create differences in logistical challenges that drive decisions more than what is biologically ideal,” Hildreth adds. “I tell producers not to jump around. Vets can help by creating balance on what would be the best way to go.” Armstrong says many producers will tell him their cattle are not wormy but he says that would be ignorance. He says it’s natural to have a parasite load and that’s what ranchers should plan for. “If a producer says they don’t have weeds in their pasture, it would be crazy to think you’ve magically eliminated yourself from that problem,” he says. “You can’t walk out in that pasture and see the parasite. In many commercial herds we see a 10 to 15 pound per hundred difference in cattle with parasite control programs. That’s your bottom line.” Mike Hildreth, Professor in Veterinary Parasitology at South Dakota State University says, “I’ve spent a fair amount of time fi guring out ways to measure losses in commercial herds in South Dakota. I was fi nding that most producers were underestimating the value of a parasite control program.” 46 I WORKING RANCH I APRIL / MAY 2016


Working Ranch April/May 2016
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