Internal parasites in cattle reduce feed intake, reduce average daily gain and alter the animal’s immune system. Expensive nutrients fed to sustain cattle are diverted to sustain the parasitic organisms instead. If one waits until clinical symptoms appear, the damage has already been done and the animal has been inefficient for quite some time. Therefore, the time to deworm is in the subclinical stage before major damage has been done and money has been lost due to poor productivity.
As I read last week’s CRYSTALYX® Blog by Jackie Nix, she was looking at the importance of deworming cattle. I took the liberty in looking up a collection of past research trials to see what has been found in terms of calf gain responses from deworming the herd, both cows and calves. I came across a study that summarized 6 trials in the Western US where they found an improvement of 10 to 30 pounds of calf weight gain at weaning for herds that had been dewormed with Safe-Guard® free-choice blocks versus those that did not. If you take an average of this range at 20 pounds back in 1996, calves were selling for around 65 cents/lb. This would give a gross return of $13.00 per head benefit. The cost of the Safe-Guard® dewormer was estimated at $4.55 for cow-calf pairs.
When CRYSTALYX® first started the blog more than 2 years ago, one of the first topics I “blogged” about was supplement value. I like to draw attention to value and to topics that differentiate supplements when the feeding season begins. After all, it is September and many fall and winter supplement programs are being evaluated or started now.
If your grass is starting to dry out, or it has reached maturity, it will likely be short on crude protein (CP). Yearling cattle really should have a diet CP level of at least 12%, and your mature cows should have at least 8% CP. This is the time of the year when many western pastures will begin to fall below even 8% CP. But, you say, were we not taught to only really worry about cow nutrition the last trimester of gestation? If you fail to supplement protein to your cow herd in September or October does it really matter? The short answer is, yes, it could.