Late fall or winter is a good time for dairy producers to strategize with their veterinarian and develop a parasite control program, says Dave Wolfgang, senior research associate with Penn State University.

"Since a truly effective program will involve how animals are housed or pastured and where manure is spread, the late fall or winter is a very good time to strategize how parasite control fits with animal care and planning for crops and forages," Wolfgang writes in the December 2012 issue of the Penn State Dairy Digest

Here are some recommendations for an effective parasite-control program: 

  1. Review animal groups to determine the level of risk for parasite exposure as animals change groups or housing.
  2. Review feeding strategies to ensure animals have minimal exposure to fecal-oral pathogens.
  3. Assess management strategies to minimize infective parasite larvae accumulation on pasture.
  4. Plan to limit manure application on pastures that will be grazed in the same year. 
  5. Conduct routine fecal egg counts (FEC) of the various animal production groups (in cattle this should include a method for fecal exams to actually get a number of eggs/gram). When quantified, the FEC can be used to judge level of parasite burden or how effective treatment strategies have been.
  6. Producers, in conjunction with their veterinarian, should agree on a low background parasite burden that is acceptable and only treat animals or groups when necessary. 
  7. Work with your veterinarian to develop an effective product/treatment strategy to minimize the development of resistance. Implement a system to periodically screen for the emergence of resistant parasites.  


Source: December 2012 Penn State Dairy Digest