John Joyce: Tips to Fight Lungworm

For the last two weeks I have been treating the yearlings and suckler calves for lungworm. I always try to finish this job in July, but this year it ended in August for various reasons.

We were busy with other work like harvesting grain and some fencing. And the biggest problem was that I had to wait for these animals to finish where they were grazing so that they could get into the yard or into the pen in the field more easily.

It hasn’t been a bad year for lungworms – they tend to be worse in mild and wet summers.

Before I treated these cattle, I heard them cough a little – some people refer to coughs. Grass growth was so poor this summer that the yearlings were grazing so close to the ground that they may have picked up more worms than usual.

Lungworm larvae can survive for a long time on pasture. Lungworm farm history, weather, and stocking rate have a major impact on disease severity.

Livestock immunity to lungworm is also thought to be decreasing, likely due to higher stocking rates and animals being subjected to more pressure.

This year I have used the Dectomax injection which also covers a range of other pasture parasites such as stomach worms, mites, lice and warblers.

I’ve been very happy with it over the last few years as a summer spa. Before that I used it orally, there was nothing wrong with that.

I’m not a big fan of pour-ons and haven’t used them in years.

Cattle are difficult to keep track of, but I think a mid-summer dose is money well spent for these animals.

I like to use a product that offers long mating treatment or control as collecting dams can be difficult and time consuming.

Keep in mind that if you use long-acting anthelmintics in an animal’s first grazing season, you can limit the animal’s exposure to lungworm larvae and remain at risk of re-infecting cattle the following season because natural resistance is not developed.

So it might be okay that I wasn’t able to treat these animals earlier in the season. I chose the injectable as I find it easier on these animals and it is very accurate. This product has a long cancellation period of 70 days.

It can also be used on sheep for a range of issues making it a handy product to have on your average mother and sheep farm on site.

As the treatment was later this year I hope this will get the yearlings into the placement.

I will probably inject the calves again before they are housed. I like to try to keep her lungworm free before weaning and housing as I think this has a big impact on outbreaks of pneumonia in the pens later in the year.

Lungworm damages the lungs of these young animals, making it easier for the virus to take hold when they are weaned or housed later in the year. So if their lungs are free of lungworm at the time of vaccination later in the year, I believe the vaccine has a better chance of working.

They will be under extra pressure this year as grass was scarce last month and up until housing; In turn, it looks like these animals will be easier to house and wean, which will impact successful weaning.

Due to the drought of the last few months, grass is very scarce. Even if we find good growing conditions for the rest of the grazing season, this needs to be managed as well as possible.

First we need to keep them outside as long as possible and not use too much winter food in early autumn. It looks like it’s going to be expensive, and if fertilizer stays at record levels, the following winter could be an even bigger problem.

But for now it’s one step at a time.

John Joyce farms at Carrigahorig, Nenagh, Co. Tipperary John Joyce: Tips to Fight Lungworm

Fry Electronics Team

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