Fall Strategies for Managing Internal Parasites

goats Parasites sheep

Internal parasites can influence the health, productivity, and vitality of cattle, sheep, and goats. Their affects are most significantly seen in younger animals, as there is a level of immunity that gets acquired with age. Managing parasites is not only about choosing a good dewormer, but also about formulating a complete program for control.

The parasites we are focusing on are primarily the stomach and intestinal worms. The most common and harmful of these include Ostertagia, Cooperia, Haemonchus, and Trichostrongylus. Practices established to control these also will address the other internal parasites.

These parasites have evolved to maximize their reproductive efficiency. This evolution is somewhat dependent on climate. Parasites from the northern part of the US will act differently than those from the southern US. In our northern regions, the parasites will go into a phase known as hypobiosis, which is a reduction in larval maturation and egg production until spring. Commonly, this coincides with the end of the grazing season and freezing temperatures.

In making decisions on pasture rotations, it is important to remember that cold winter weather does not destroy worm larvae. At temperatures below 50 degrees, worm eggs do not hatch but existing larvae are still infective. This means that grazing stockpiled pasture in winter can lead to new infestations if the pasture was grazed during the summer months. Also, it is good to have a “clean” paddock for first turn-out in the spring. An ideal situation would be an area seeded in late summer with rye or winter wheat.

Control measure for the animals relies on 3 things:
1. Good nutrition
2. Eliminating adult parasites
3. Maintaining excellent gut integrity

Good Nutrition – As with all health challenges, an animal that is on a high plane of nutrition will be better able to stay healthy and productive. Diets with proper levels of protein and energy are most important. Vitamins A, D, and E are essential, especially when using stored feeds. Readily absorbable trace minerals benefit the immune system. Sources of these include Redmond salt, kelp, and humates. Adequate and clean water is also vital.

Also keep in mind that nutritional requirements are higher if the animals are run down from previous parasites loads or health challenges.

Eliminating Adult Parasites – I will focus on the natural/organic products that I use in my practice and on my animals. This would be my fall protocols:

1. Dr. Paul’s Clean Start Pellets
When animals are coming off pasture for all sheep, goats, and calves, I give a feeding of this palatable pellet at a level of 8 oz per 300 lbs body weight. I mix with some feed, so all animals get their amount. I have been doing this once per month to animals less than 1 year of age and have had excellent results.

In situations where I suspect coccidiosis as well as internal parasites, I will do 5 consecutive days with clean start at 8 oz per 300 lbs body weight.

If using a self-feeder or creep feeder, it can be included at a level of 2 oz per 300 lbs body weight for 2 weeks. The maximum I give to adult animals is 2lbs of Clean Start.

2. Dr. Paul’s CGS Remedy
This is a ground botanical product that is easily mixed in with feed. I use this product when I want to give it to a large group of cattle. Sheep and goats may want to sort it out from the feed, but adult animals will get it consumed. I give ¾ cup per 500 lbs of body weight and will repeat in 3 weeks if necessary.

3. Dr. Paul’s S & G Pills
If I have sheep or goats coming off pasture that are thin, have a rough hair coat, and inconsistent manure, I use the S & G Pills. White this product requires
catching and giving boluses to individual animals, it is a way to make sure each animal gets their portion. I go back and give Clean Start Pellets in 2-3 weeks.

Maintaining Gut Integrity – It is very important to have a healthy gut lining to maximize the immune system and reduce the ability for parasite larvae to attach to the gut.

Many basic components go into this:
1. Adequate water for good hydration
2. Non-acidic diet and good balance of grain/forage if feeding grain.
3. Fiber - which acts as a prebiotic. Oats are excellent in feeds as well as fiber in forages.
4. Control of mycotoxins - Consider Dr. Paul’s Ration Boost if mycotoxins are suspected.
5. Humates – Reed Sedge Peat
6. Hydrolysable Tannins – Clean Start Pellets
7. Available Trace Minerals – Redmond salt, kelp

In summary, what I like to see for fall parasite management is the judicious use of products to diminish parasite load going into the winter and using Clean Start Pellets as part of a program to maximize gut health. Good balanced nutrition sets the stage for health and productivity. By managing parasite loads in the fall, the stage is set for fewer problems in the spring. Using natural products diminishes the build-up of parasite resistance. I strongly advise that you talk with a veterinarian or your animal health provider about your particular operation in setting up a program for year-long parasite management.

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