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Gutworm treatment helps Co. Kilkenny farmer’s dairy expansion plan post milk quota abolition


Getting on top of gutworm control has enabled Co. Kilkenny dairy farmer Andrew Leeson to implement his ambitious plan to expand his herd from 340 to 750 dairy cows in 2015. Keeping on top of parasite control in such a large herd has been made easier since he started using EPRINEX® (eprinomectin).

Andrew's current 340 head of dairy cows based on his Grangecuffe farm are now productive and healthy and he has big expansion plans, but it wasn't always the case. Moving the stock to a new farm a year ago meant he was faced with unexpected herd health issues caused by gutworm (Ostertagia ostertagi), identified during routine testing. On his previous farm the herd never had to be treated for gutworm.

Andrew LeesonAndrew said: "Worms were not a problem I'd ever experienced, so routine treatment of the herd wasn't something that came to mind when we moved to the new site.

"However, after receiving the bulk sample result from a recent MOO test, a high reading was identified. The result indicated a high gutworm challenge and I knew that I had to act fast to get the problem under control and keep productivity at the level required to move forward."

A MOO test is a bulk milk test that assesses the level of antibodies to Ostertagia ostertagi, and can help identify a gutworm problem in the herd.

"I never had to worm my cows before as I had no known productivity issues," explained Andrew. "However, following the advice from my local RP, I used EPRINEX® to treat the whole herd for gutworm. The product was easy to apply and with the aid of a good handling system and the help of my stockman I was able to treat all 340 cows quickly and correctly."

In addition to the convenience of the pour-on formulation, the zero milk withdrawal was an added bonus. Andrew said: "As far as I am concerned, treating the cows with EPRINEX® has been a positive step. Not only have I got the worm problem under control, but I've maintained the production levels in the herd, which is very important."

The negative impact of gutworm on dairy herds is widely publicised, but it's often not until there is evidence of a problem, such as a positive MOO test result, that action is taken and the benefit of treatment can be seen.

Sioned Timothy, veterinary adviser for Merial Animal Health, said:  "Gutworm can significantly reduce the productivity of the herd. Although adult dairy cows develop immunity to gutworm that makes them resilient to outward clinical signs of infection, it does not prevent them from becoming infected with Ostertagia ostertagi.  This parasite burden can reduce milk yield by as much as 2.6 litres per cow per day1, that's a significant amount if you're looking to maximise your yield and profitability."

She continued: "Gutworm can also have a significant effect on fertility. Treating dairy cows for gutworm can improve their fertility, reducing the calving to conception interval and improving conception rates2."

Calving is another key period in the production cycle; ensuring optimal management of cows and heifers during this period is critical to the animal's health and productivity throughout the lactation. Cows treated for gutworm around the time of calving have been shown to increase their grazing time by almost an hour compared to untreated cows3. Improved appetite and higher dry matter intake helps cows to bridge the energy gap, maximise their production, and reduce the time it takes to get them back into calf4.

Andrew has seen the positive effect of removing gutworm from the dairy herd and as a result, plans to continue to use EPRINEX® as part of his parasite control plan.

He said: "I will be using EPRINEX® in the event of any future gutworm problems in the dairy herd. The convenience of the product and the fact it has no milk withhold period means that it works for me and my business."

Sioned concludes: "With more than a decade of successful use by Irish dairy farmers Eprinex® has been proven in the field. It's also supported by two decades of clinical studies carried out around the world that continue to demonstrate the benefits of using Eprinex to treat dairy cows."


1 Reist et al, Effect of eprinomectin treatment on milk yield and quality in dairy cows in South Tyrol, Italy. Veterinary Record 2011 168, 484-487

2  McPherson  et al. Proceedings of the American Asssociation of Veterinary Parasitologists. 44th Annual Meeting, New Orleans, Lousiana, USA, 1999 Abstr. 28.

3 Forbes et al. Behavioural mechanisms underlying production responses in dairy cows treated with eprinomectin. 19th WAAVP Congress 2003, New Orleans

4 Sanchez et al. The effect of eprinomectin treatment at calving on reproduction parameters in adult dairy cows in Canada. Preventative Veterinary Medicine 2002 56:165-177

Eprinex formula for success

Merial-Sanofi_Logo_rgb EPRINEX® 0.5% w/v Pour-On for Beef and Dairy Cattle contains eprinomectin. EPRINEX® and the steerhead® logo is a registered trademark of Merial Ltd. © Merial 2016. All rights reserved. Legal Category: POM-VPS (UK), LM (Ireland). Advice on the use of these or alternative medicines must be sought from the medicine prescriber. For further information refer to the datasheet,  contact Merial Animal Health Ltd, CM19 5TG, UK, or call the Merial Customer Support Centre on 0800 592699 (UK), 1850 783 783 (Ireland).

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