Successful Deworming Strategies

From egg counts to rotational grazing, develop best practices to deworm your cared for livestock safely and effectively.

Photo by Adobe Stock/

Regardless of how you manage your animals, parasites should always be on your radar. Parasites are a significant cause of disease, lowered production, and high mortality among livestock. These problems create unnecessary economic loss, regardless of whether livestock are kept as a source of income or simply for family benefit, because treatment and replacement stock are more costly than preventative practices.

Successful parasite management is no longer a simple matter of grabbing the most convenient dewormer from the shelf. Due to widespread parasite resistance to nearly all dewormers, safe and correct deworming usage nowadays requires a multifaceted approach. To ensure you’re only using dewormers when necessary, utilize fecal sampling, selective deworming, and sound pasture management.

Evolving Deworming Strategies

Traditional wisdom has been to rotate dewormer medications, deworm on a schedule, and deworm each individual animal — no fecal tests required. Unfortunately, by following these practices, we’ve unwittingly exposed our livestock’s parasites to every single class of anthelmintic (dewormer) year-round. This constant exposure gave the parasites ample time and opportunity to evolve and “learn” how to resist practically all available dewormers. No new anthelmintics are in the making, hence the need for a new approach.

The most significant change required is the frequent use of fecal tests. Just as war commanders must know who their enemy is before they can attack, livestock owners must know what parasite has invaded their stock. Each species of animal has its own prime parasite. For goats, it’s the barber pole worm; for cattle, it’s the roundworm. But just because a species has a primary parasite doesn’t mean that’s the one afflicting your herd. Fecals will identify the specific parasites present, allowing you to better select a dewormer that targets those species.

Photo by Getty Images/baranozdemir

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