Steps for a Grazing Plan to Help Reduce Internal Parasites in Livestock
Find five Extension-approved options to add to your grazing plan to reduce internal parasites in your livestock.
Cattle producers and all livestock operators are always on the lookout for ways to increase the health and production of their herds. One good way to do so is to reduce the parasite load of your livestock, and a Ag FarmPress article by a member of the UGA Extension Forage Team offers a grazing plan that will help reduce internal parasites in your cattle herd or other livestock. See excerpts below.
Grazing Plan Options
According to the article, parasites have the ability to really affect the bottom line of your operation: “Subclinical effects caused by internal parasites include reduced milk production, reduced weaning weights, delayed puberty, decreased fertility and pregnancy rates, as well as reduced feed intake, diarrhea, anemia, and immune suppression.” Death of herd members is also possible, especially in the young.
The article points out that many parasites have gained a resistance to dewormers, so looking to the other points of a parasite’s lifecycle—ie, in the pasture—to eliminate the parasite is necessary. Grazing plan options include:
- Understand the lifecycle of the parasites that affect your livestock. “Mature parasites reproduce inside the host and eggs are released in the feces. These eggs hatch inside the feces. Warm, wet weather conditions are most favorable for egg hatching and larvae development. Once the larvae hatch, they travel up the blades of grass in order to be ingested by livestock while grazing where they will mature and begin reproducing, repeating the cycle.”
- Do not overstock or overgraze. “Overstocking will ultimately lead to shorter forages to graze and increases the likelihood of animals ingesting parasites.”
- Rotate Pastures. “Rotating livestock through different pastures helps to reduce parasite pressure by removing animals before parasite eggs hatch and larva are ingested.”
- Consider Mixed-Species Grazing. “many common internal parasites are host-specific. This means that cattle can help “break” the cycle for sheep or goat parasites by ingesting them but not providing an environment where they will reproduce – the same is true for cattle and horses by bringing in sheep or goats. You can graze mixed species simultaneously, or alternate livestock species to achieve the same purpose.”
- Incorporate Improved or Alternative Forages. “Utilizing different forage crops such as legumes or summer annuals can provide higher quality forages that improve the nutritional status of animals which helps reduce stress of internal parasites and also can provide a situation where parasites populations are not as prolific.”
Griffin Fertilizer is committed to helping both growers and ranchers make sound agronomic and economic decisions in order to maximize the health of their grove and pasture. As a full-service custom dry & liquid fertilizer blender and crop protection product distributor, we will continue our mission to further advance Florida agriculture. For questions or concerns about your farm or pasture, contact us and one of our team will be in touch.