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Clinical trial points way to cattle stock gains

Clinical trial points way to young cattle stock productivity gains

Research funded by the animal health company Merial indicates even low worm infestations may have a significant impact on productivity in young cattle.

Drenching improved daily weight gains of dairy calves by 150 grams.

And the undrenched young cattle ate for 105 minutes less a day.

In an interesting side observation, the quality of pasture on which the undrenched stock grazed was affected. More long and pseudo-stemmed grass was left, making it less nutritious.

Merial's veterinary technical services manager, Dr Justin Hurst, says the clinical trial will be of great interest to farmers nationwide who are now weaning young stock.

The overseas study, involving Merial Animal Health and the UK's independent Institute of Grassland and Environmental Research, used 20 dairy heifer calves. Ten were dosed with an ivermectin controlled-release capsule two weeks before they, and the 10 untreated control animals, were released into adjacent pastures of the same length.

After 10 weeks, during which the animals were weighed and tested for worm eggs every 28 days, Dr Hurst says the following significant findings were reported:

The untreated heifers, compared with their dosed counterparts

• Grazed for 105 minutes less each day

• Ate 0.78kg of dry matter less each day

• Had a mean worm egg count of only 120 eggs per gram of faeces at the end of the trial.

"Farmers will be interested to learn that, even at these low infestation rates, there were important impacts on productivity," Dr Hurst says.

Merial believes farmers with young stock will benefit from basing drenching decisions on thorough research.

Another clinical trial, using Merial's Eprinex anthelmintic drench, has since shown significant improvements are possible in grazing time and productivity among adult dairy cows. The trial provides evidence that the rapid and persistent activity of Eprinex not only leads to direct health benefits for treated animals, but also reduces pasture contamination while promoting growth which improves pasture quality.


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