Cattle production: Your calves and parasites


By Digital team | 22 May 2019
cows; weaning; calves
Two Nguni cows and a calf. Photo: Chris Jooste

Question: The rainfall was exceptionally high in my area during late summer and autumn. The grazing looks good, and the cows are in a good condition, but my calves are not growing too well. What could the problem be?

Most parasites flourish under wet and warm conditions. Roundworms and tapeworms, for instance – produce a large number of eggs. These are excreted in the dung of animals and then need to hatch and develop on the grazing before they can infect cattle again. Wet, warm conditions are ideal for the survival and development of young worms on grazing.

During a wet year, the number of parasites on the grazing is much higher than usual and young animals, such as calves, are especially affected because they don’t have any resistance to round and tape worms. This means that most of the young worms ingested when the calves start to graze will attach and grow to adult worms in their intestines. And this will affect the growth of young calves severely.

In a wet year, young calves have to be dewormed at 3 and 5 months of age, because they don’t have any resistance to roundworms and tapeworms at this age. Over time, cattle build up a resistance to these specific parasites and that’s why the adult cows are still in a good condition.

Ask a veterinarian for a broad-spectrum livestock remedy that works against all the kinds of round worms as well as tape worm. Dose the calves and you’ll see better growth and improvement in condition within two weeks. If there’s no improvement, the problem needs to be discussed further with the veterinarian from which you bought the remedy.

Also read: Deworming your cattle

  • This article was written by Dr. Danie Odendaal and first appeared in Farming SA.