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Planned Parasite Control Profits Farmers

Wed, 30 June 2004

Planned Parasite Control Profits Farmers

Animal health company Merial New Zealand has released a booklet explaining how to determine the likelihood of economic returns in treatment for parasites in dairy cows.

The booklet, Planned Parasite Control For Profitability, has been written by veterinarians, and explains the parasite life cycle and the seasonal effects on pasture and livestock.

Co-author Dr Lab Wilson, Merial technical product manager, says the booklet has proved popular in the first days of its release.

"It's simply an explanation of parasites and the effects on farm profits. We've had requests over the past few years for information that's impartial and simple to digest. We believe we've achieved it, and early feedback has backed that up."

Wilson says the booklet weighs up balancing the dynamics of lactation and its drain on energy, along with seasonal pasture differences and understanding the parasite life cycle, in order to help farmers decide when it's most economical to administer worm treatments.

"Cows in early lactation are in a state of negative energy balance. There's a point where lactational peak, and therefore total production, is limited by the size of the energy deficit. To minimise the deficit, feed intake and quality, especially the amount of energy extracted from it, must be maximised."

Wilson says because cows tend to cope with parasites, treatment is often deemed unnecessary, but he says there's research which shows any level of parasite challenge will have a negative effect on both appetite and energy utilization.

"Even low levels are shown to have profound effects on grazing behaviour and feed intake. Parasites demand an immune response from the cow and with that comes a consequent diversion of energy resources."

The challenge is represented by resident worms, and according to Wilson possibly even more so by the ongoing ingestion of new infective larvae from pasture.

"Modern, highly tuned, pasture-based dairy systems put cows under immense pressure, so it's important that the transition period is well managed."

Planned Parasite Control For Profitability in Dairy Cows is available free of charge from vet clinics or direct from Merial New Zealand 0800 800 822 or http://nz.merial.com

ENDS

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