Deworming is a big challenge to many farmers. Images of cattle, sheep and goats in a very bad shape, are a common sight on most farms in the countryside. One reason for this is that farmers do not associate the poor health of their animals with worm infestation. Indeed, farmers will often consult a veterinarian thinking a disease has affected their animals. The main types of worms in livestock include roundworms (nematodes) and flatworms (platyhelminthes), like flukes and tapeworms.
Symptoms of worm infestation
Young calves are especially prone to worms, because of their weak immune system. The common symptoms include frequent diarrhea and a weak appearance. Adult cows, affected by worms and internal parasites, reduce milk production and are susceptible to anemia, and can even die in severe conditions. As the rainy season sets in, worm infestation in domestic animals tends to increase, interfering with their normal growth and milk production. To prevent worm infestation, farmers have to deworm their animals at regular intervals and maintain proper animal management through feeding and even hygiene.
It is difficult to completely eradicate parasites in animals, but they can be managed in a way that does not affect the animals’ health so much. The secret to good parasite management is to avoid high infestation and to strengthen the vitality and resistance of your animals.
Understand the worms to fight them
The animals mostly pick worms when grazing during the wet season, since these parasites find the right conditions that enable them to multiply. Farmers should therefore know the life cycles of each internal parasite in order to control them more effectively. One fact that farmers should know is that it is only the adult worm that lives in the internal organs of the animal, grazing cattle pick the worm larvae with the grass; the larvae then grow into adult worms inside the animal. Coccidia, intestinal worms, and tapeworms mainly reside in the intestines, lungworms live in the lungs, liver flukes are found in the liver while brain worms in sheep and goats live in the brain. Once the worms produce eggs, the eggs are passed out with animal dung. When there is sufficient moisture, the eggs develop into tiny infectitious larvae that survive in pastures until they are taken up by the animals while grazing.
Grazing management controls worms
Good grazing management can go a long way in worm control. Farmers can take the following measures to reduce worm infestation:
- Divide the pasture into four or five paddocks and allow animals into each paddock at a time through the rotation. Graze each paddock for about a week and let it recover for one month.
- Graze the young calves first in each paddock before allowing the adult cows into the paddock; this reduces worm infestation in calves.
- Do not overstock or overgraze the paddocks.
- Fence off swampy areas to prevent animals from drinking water in such areas to reduce liver fluke infestation.
Farmers should buy the right dewormers to control worms in their animals. To reduce the incidence of worm resistance to dewormers, it is important to use different deworming drugs in each cycle of deworming. The right dosage is important (follow the label!); underdosing leads to resistance and parasite survival. Always ask for assistance and the services of a qualified veterinarian to advise you on the most effective dewormers in the market.
Always deworm livestock at the beginning and end of every rainy season improves their health and productivity.