While investigating concerns of parasite resistance in cattle and the actions producers should take, nearly everyone we talked to pointed to what has happened in small ruminants as an example of what to avoid. (See "Prevent Parasite Resistance” on page 4.)
In the past several years, certain internal sheep and goat parasites have become resistant to the available deworming products. Some of these parasites can cause death in animals with high infestations. If the resistant parasite population continues to grow, there will come a time when available products no longer work to kill the worms.
The parasite problems found in the sheep industry are a growing concern for the cattle industry as a whole and for health companies worldwide. Efforts to slow down the progress of resistant parasite species are under way. In addition, researchers are looking to identify sheep and goat lines that are genetically resistant to internal parasite infestations.
Call for diligence.
There's no need for panic yet. The anthelmintics that are used for parasite control in cattle are still effective. There have been only two well-documented cases of nematode resistance in cattle, says Mike Hildreth, a parasitologist at South Dakota State University. Further investigation has also led many researchers to believe that this resistance could be attributed to improper use of animal health products.
As with any health products given to animals, we must make sure we proceed judiciously and not look at any one product as a silver-bullet solution to parasite issues. Instead, these products should be incorporated into an overall management strategy that will reduce the potential for resistance as well as improve the overall performance of the animals.
Through judicious use, you can actually save money by getting the most from your dewormer investment. Proper timing, dosage and product storage are all necessary to boost effectiveness.
Along with that goes sound production practices, including pasture management and herd biosecurity. Careful use of these products will also save you money by eliminating the waste that results from giving your cattle anthelmintics at the wrong time or at the incorrect dosage.
In the long run, proper use of animal health products by every producer will prevent parasites from developing resistance and ensure these products continue to protect the health of our animals.
Kim Watson-Potts, Editor, Beef Today, writes from San Antonio, Texas firstname.lastname@example.org