Winter is the season where most farmers go over their account books for the year, plan the coming year’s crops, and set new goals for the farm.
Winter should also be the time that farmers sit down and create an appropriate parasite control program before spring.
Spring parasite prevention begins in the winter. In order to get your cattle and other livestock ready to go for the spring grazing, you’ll want to deworm in the winter. Going from eating hay and feed concentrate to eating forages and suddenly being exposed to parasites that have been off the scene all winter can cause a bit of a shock to an animal’s system if they are unprepared. As the old saying goes, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
Before running to the farm supply store or the vet to pick up a load of dewormer, carefully take stock of your animals’ needs to avoid overspending, buying the wrong product or purchasing an improper dosage. It doesn’t do any good to deworm your stock if you give them too low of a dose to be effective – or to overdose where it isn’t necessary. To create an effective parasite program, you need to have an accurate weight on your animals. This can be challenging to achieve, but can help you save money and improve your animal’s performance in the long run by knowing the proper dose for deworming. Within your parasite prevention program, take steps to reduce the risk of parasite resistance.
“To prevent parasite resistance from developing, many experts now recommend rotating dewormer classes,” stated Hobby Farm Magazine in an article. Pyrantel, Benzimidazole and Ivermectin are the main three on the market. Hobby Farm also suggest that, “making sure an animal gets the appropriate dosage for its weight – and keeps it down, in the case of oral medications – is another way farmers can help prevent parasites from developing resistance to anthelmintics.”
Aside from deworming, there are other steps that farmers and ranchers can take during the winter to make sure livestock are relatively parasite free come spring. For starters, don’t ever give the parasites a home to develop in the first place; keeping paddocks, stalls and feeding areas clean and dry, with little to no standing manure, doesn’t give most parasites an adequate environment to live. Keeping your livestock feed up off the ground whenever possible can keep them from coming into contact with many parasites – use hay rings and sturdy feed bunks to limit the risk of your critters picking up a bug. To keep the parasite population low not only heading into spring, but year round as well, consider working rotational grazing, or Management Intensive Grazing (MIG) into your farm plan.
Tom Landers, of Landers Lean Meats in Dadeville, Mo., recommends this practice.
“We use rotational grazing and that helps a lot,” Tom said. Rotational grazing spreads out the application of manure, therefore reducing the areas that parasites can develop in, and prevents livestock from overgrazing and potentially picking up parasites from eating the forage down to the dirt. This parasite preventing practice can easily accommodate a multi-species farm – Landers Lean Meats runs their pastured poultry behind their cattle, and Tom says that the chickens help prevent parasite issues by eating bugs and larvae, while also providing “added fertility for the grass.”
Parasites are one of those things that farmers and ranchers will always have to contend with – but having a prevention program can go a long way towards making a potentially devastating issue a minor one.


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