Studies have shown that over 80% of costs on a dairy farm with a parasite infestation can be attributed to the resulting loss in milk yield and mortality.
Previously it had been assumed that after exposure to gutworms and lungworms during the first and second grazing seasons, adult dairy cattle would have developed immunity sufficient to prevent burdens substantial enough to cause a problem later in life.
Low milk prices mean that maximising the number of litres produced and minimising the cost of producing each and every litre is paramount. To do that requires ensuring that cows are in the best physical shape allowing them to produce milk efficiently without dramatic metabolic compromise in the run up to calving.
A recent year-long abattoir survey has shown that between 83% and 100% of culled dairy cows are infected with gutworms . Even though the burdens may be lower in adult dairy cattle than in their younger naïve counterparts, they may still have a sizeable effect on productivity as a result of the exceptionally high demands placed on our highly-bred UK dairy herd.
A bulk milk sample can be taken to gauge the level of infection of gutworms in your whole herd, by measuring the levels of antibody to the gastro-intestinal nematode, Ostertagia ostertagi. High results have been associated with a drop in annual average milk production of up to 1.2kg/day . The benefits of anthelmintic treatment are also more dramatic in those herds with a high antibody level when compared with those with a lower level.
Over 275 farms nationwide took advantage of Norbrook’s fully funded Bulk Milk Tank Testing scheme between July and December 2015 and the results were significant. A staggering 73% of milk tests showed high or very high levels of gutworm infection in the milking herd. Such high levels of exposure to gutworm will have noted effects on the health and productivity of the milking herd.
“Norbrook’s fully funded bulk milk tank testing offers the scientific justification for monetary outlay and investment in worming the dairy herd. Diagnosis of worm burdens is a responsible practice to ensure the infected herds are treated at the right time for optimal returns”, said Paul Morris, Senior Animal Health Adviser, Wessex Animal Health.
“When appropriate, treating adult cows with anthelmintics has many proven benefits on performance. This includes increased dry matter intake of up to one kilogramme per cow per day and improved fertility – one study suggests that might be as much as a 20% increase in conception rate at first service. Other studies show improved fat, protein and milk solids. Yield improvement can be up to two litres per cow per day,” says Stephanie Small BVSc MRCVS, Vet Adviser at Norbrook Laboratories.
The effects of lungworm on the adult dairy herd cannot be ignored either. Classic clinical signs range from coughing to respiratory difficulty, but subclinical infections still have an appreciable effect on milk yields. With very large larval numbers on pasture, disease can occur in adult cattle vaccinated as calves but not subsequently challenged for several years.
Come and speak to the Norbrook team at AHDA 2016 to find out more about Eprizero Pour On and sign up to our Pro CPD programme, design especially for SQPs.
Also don’t forget to check your AHDA delegate back for the Eprizero winning golden coins. If you are a trade store or wholesaler SQP, you will be in with the chance to win £50 retail vouchers, only with Norbrook and Eprizero Pour On.
View the Eprizero 2015 Invest in Dairy Video by scanning the QR code or visiting